Canada’s new prostitution law: Separating fact from fiction

In 2014, Canada made history by creating prostitution legislation that recognizes prostituted people are not criminals, but that those who exploit them are. Previous laws treated prostitution as a public nuisance instead of an issue of violence against women. This new approach signifies a major victory for women’s equality as it will teach generations of men that women’s bodies are not for sale.

Of course, whenever there is an advancement towards women’s equality, there is a backlash; and this case is no different.

Over the last few months the conversation about Bill C-36 has been widely publicized by the media, though that coverage has been largely one-sided. Therefore the public has heard from those who oppose the law far more than from supporters. As a result, ordinary Canadians whose only knowledge about prostitution comes from the news articles they read with their morning coffee have been led to believe myths and lies about who created this law, how, and why.

Canada’s new prostitution law is not a religious conservative attempt to limit women’s autonomy, as the bill’s opponents would have us believe. The sex industry does not consist of morally-neutral transactions between consenting adults, and sex trafficking is not a separate issue from prostitution. Rather, these are myths, presented as indisputable truth, perpetuated intentionally by those who want to (continue to) profit from exploitation.

The truth is that the driving force behind Bill C-36 was a combination of the testimonies of women who have direct experience in prostitution, research from Canada and around the world on prostitution laws, and the lobbying efforts of women’s groups who seek an end to violence against women. This law stands as proof that what Canadian women want is equality, not exploitation.

It has been implied by opponents that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, who heard testimonies, studied, and evaluated the bill, was full of Evangelicals and Conservatives who sought to impose Christian morality on Canadians and who refused to listen to women in prostitution. Although there were some Evangelicals who testified in the hearings, they were far outnumbered by secular lawyers, academics, and women with no particular religious affiliation who testified about their own experience in the sex trade. These accusations against the committee were part of a strategy to discredit Bill C-36 in the eyes of Liberals and the left. And it seems to have worked — the Liberals and the NDP unanimously voted against the bill, despite testimony and research supporting it. In a strange turn of events, Conservatives helped pass feminist legislation, while the Liberals and the NDP attempted to stop it. Although this raises interesting questions about what it means to be on the political right or the left in Canada these days, there’s no real reason why prostitution should be a partisan issue — ending violence against women should be a no-brainer for any political party.

Considering the level of contradictory information put forth about the issue of prostitution, it’s no surprise that so many people have difficulty separating fact from fiction.

The pro-prostitution lobby, with the support of many Canadian media outlets, has successfully reached and convinced much of the public that there is an entire sex industry made up of consenting adults and that exists in isolation from human trafficking and underage prostitution.

This lobby is represented most-notably by Terri-Jean Bedford, who has featured in much of the coverage of prostitution in Canada over the last few years. Media outlets love titillating their readers with images of Bedford, clad in black leather and brandishing her riding crop, delivering snappy banter in her best dominatrix voice. “Prime Minister Harper called me again,” she declared in the committee hearing for Bill C-36. “He wanted to appoint me to the Senate… as a government whip!” What is rarely mentioned in the media, however, is that it was not Bedford who sought out a lawyer to help her overturn Canada’s previous prostitution law —  it was lawyer Alan Young who initiated the case. He stated on camera that he recruited Bedford to act as an applicant, despite the fact that the media frames the case as one “led by sex workers.” Another fact rarely mentioned in articles about Canada’s most famous dominatrix is that she was first prostituted before the age of 18. For all her talk about “consenting adults,” she was not yet an adult when she first learned that her sexuality was for sale.

But while the pomp and spectacle of the sex trade lobby carries on, the women affected by prostitution do the unglamorous — but necessary — work of healing themselves and helping others.

In Toronto, survivors of prostitution started SexTrade101, an organization that provides counselling and emergency services to women in the sex trade, as well as public presentations and educational workshops. The two founders of the organization, Natasha Falle and Bridget Perrier, did significant work getting Bill C-36 passed. They did it not because of conservative ideology or “morality,” as opponents suggest, but because they know what the sex industry is — they’ve been in it and they’ve counselled hundreds of women in it, and they know that pimps and johns need to be held accountable for their abuse.

Falle has been working with women in prostitution since 2001, and out of the hundreds of women who have filled out intake surveys, she says 97 per cent of them wanted to get out of the industry. Hundreds of them also reported being controlled by pimps and entering prostitution between 13 and 16 years of age.

The “consenting adults” we keep hearing about make up only a tiny percentage of the industry, but the media focuses on those few people, ignoring the majority. Moreover, there is not such a clear distinction between human trafficking and prostitution. Many survivors were controlled by pimps at some point during their time in the sex industry even if they worked independently at other times. In any case, it is the same men who are buying women — whether they are controlled by pimps or not.

Rachel Moran is a survivor of prostitution who was never trafficked. In her book, Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution, she writes:

Women like myself who were forced by nobody need to find our voices and assert that this does not mean we were forced by nothing. It is a very human foolishness to insist on the presence of a knife or a gun or a fist in order to recognize the existence of force, when often the most compelling forces on this earth present intangibly, in coercive situations. My prostitution experience was coerced. For those of us who fall into the ‘free’ category, it is life that does the coercing. People concentrate so much on the differences between prostituted women and trafficking victims that they forget there are far more similarities than differences. Probably the most fundamental of these is that while the trafficked woman had her sexual autonomy stolen from her, the prostituted woman had hers bought; and so both sets of women have lost their sexual self-governance. While individuals and organisations argue about whether the issues of trafficking and prostitution should be dealt with separately or together, the punters have already made their minds up. They use both sets of women, and they make no distinction (p227).

The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights heard horrific tales of abuse from the survivors who testified. Women who identify as sex workers and who oppose this new law distanced themselves from the survivors who testified, implying that those women were victims of sex trafficking who have nothing to do with the conversation about “adult prostitution,” framing their testimonies as merely a tactic intended to tarnish the image of the sex trade. But the committee did not seek out survivors with tales of abuse — these activists applied to be witnesses as a part of their ongoing advocacy work. These women cannot be dismissed as simply having a “victim mentality” — they are courageous and determined women who are in the trenches every day fighting to make things better for others who are going through what they did.

Falle survived physical and sexual assault, torture, and a serious cocaine addiction during her time in prostitution. She went on to graduate with honours from George Brown College, create a non-profit organization, teach at Humber College, become an accomplished public speaker, and was an affiant in the lower court leading to the Supreme Court hearing on the Bedford case.

Natasha Falle and Bridget Perrier at the Senate hearings on Bill C-36.

Perrier entered into the sex trade at the age of 12 and was subjected to physical and sexual assault, as well as torture. She managed to exit prostitution, went on to graduate from college, and became a prominent speaker and activist. As the co-founder of SexTrade101 she provides counselling, emergency support, and sometimes her own couch to sleep on, to women in the sex industry. These women may have sad stories to tell, but those stories are eclipsed by impressive accomplishments. “People who know me know that I’m a ballbuster,” Perrier says, “and I’m not gonna go down without a fight.”

If the media had spent more time talking to the women who were lobbying to get Bill C-36 passed, they would have uncovered some inspiring stories of perseverance and some interesting points of discussion about Canadian society.

In a telephone interview, Bridget Perrier explained what it was like working on Bill C-36 and testifying for the committee. When the old prostitution laws were struck down, survivors and their allies got right into action:

We formed a coalition of survivors. Natasha Falle, Trisha Baptie and me, along with organizations like The Native Women’s Association (NWAC), La CLES, and Walk With Me — we made sure our homework was done, because we knew our argument was the one that was going to help women, and we started lobbying. Anyone who would listen, we talked to. An amazing thing happened — people started listening. I’ve never seen that. It was a real David and Goliath situation. This bill should be called ‘The Survivor’s Bill.’

As for the question of whether or not there were too many Conservatives and Christians on the committee, Perrier says she never had a problem with that. She is not interested in organized religion herself, but she found that the Christians who helped her did not preach at her, but simply offered their support.

“Abolitionists come in all types. Some are Christian, some are not. Why is it an issue? Some are straight and married to men, and some are gay. It shouldn’t matter. We can all work together.”

Perrier says she found testifying at the committee intimidating. The hearings were televised and are archived online for anyone to watch, so her story is more public now than ever before. But Perrier had a strategy that helped her: “When I was testifying, it helped to imagine that it was only me and Joy Smith in the room.”

Of course, MP Joy Smith wasn’t the only advocate who supported survivors. Other Canadian women such as Diane Matte of La CLES; UBC law professor, Janine Benedet; Michèle Audette, president of NWAC; Kim Pate of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies; Megan Walker of the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC); and many more, were all excellent allies to survivors.

The legislation was not written solely based on women’s testimonies, of course. The Department of Justice Canada’s criminal law policy lead on prostitution, Nathalie Levman, who had a great deal of input into the drafting and preparation of the bill, told me in an email on February 5th:

As explained in the Department of Justice’s Technical Paper, available here, the development of Bill C-36 was informed by the evidence before the courts in Bedford, as well as the decision itself, the public consultations conducted by the Government in February and March of 2014, jurisprudence interpreting existing prostitution-related Criminal Code offences, the available research on prostitution in Canada, including relevant Canadian Parliamentary reports, as well as available international research on prostitution, including relevant government reports from other jurisdictions. The Technical Paper contains a bibliography of the research that informed the development of Bill C-36.

Levman says she “brings a rights-based approach” to her work and she demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the legislation’s effect on women while answering questions in the hearings.

So what’s next for Canadian abolitionists? Perrier seems upbeat about the future. In the short term, she says, funding is needed to support organizations that help women leave the sex industry, so they can do more outreach and help more women. In the long term, Perrier predicted that the attitude toward buying sex will shift. The next generation of men will understand that it’s wrong to buy women, and that will contribute to future gender equality.

The women who support Canada’s new prostitution law are too numerous to name. Canadian survivors, the families of women and girls who’ve entered prostitution and never come back, academics, lawyers, MPs, women’s organizations, and directors of women’s shelters across the country all worked to pass this bill. This large group of people did not act on “conservative morality,” but on their knowledge of the issue and their caring for women. Journalists and organizations who spent their time spreading myths and slandering the legislation as being “conservative” and “moralizing,” missed out on seeing the impressive show of solidarity among women and the powerful move toward a more just society. Too much emphasis on what Conservative politicians were supposedly doing wrong meant forgetting to ask the Liberal party and the NDP why they weren’t supporting an evidence-based law, supported by survivors, in an effort to end violence against women.

The result is that ordinary Canadians who have not studied the issue in-depth missed out on this, too, as well as much factual information on which to build their opinions. It’s time for the media to report the truth: Canadian women are working toward a better society, one in which we are no longer viewed as commodities to be bought and sold.

Leah Harwood is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and York University. She lives in Toronto.

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  • river

    Bridget Perrier’s testimony was electrifying. I’m surprised to hear she was nervous. If you haven’t seen it and heard her, you should. It’s still on C-Span , I believe.

    We owe a great debt of gratitude to these women, to Joy Smith, to Melissa Farley whose academic work was pivotal backgrounder, to legal scholar Gunilla Ekberg and to the international radical feminist community which theory was the inception of the Nordic Model and the idea that prostitution (and pornography, which is filmed prostitution) is never the woman’s fault and she does not deserve any punishment.

    • Leah

      You can still watch Bridget’s (or anyone else’s) testimony here: http://www.cpac.ca/en/digital-archives/?search=Prostitution

      • river

        Although I watched nearly all of the broadcasts, there are certain segments I watched more than once, and will again. It was often emotional overload for me.

        Certainly hoping to hear much more from you. Thanks for this which I will save as reference material.

    • Rapp

      I do not know what to say about this. So far every single city in Canada with population over 200000 has some kind of prostitution scene. You can read the prostitution guides from these cities from here: http://www.wikisexguide.com/wiki/Canada

      Hopefully this new law will make things safer for the sex workers.

  • I don’t like the fact that feminists had to ally with conservatives in order to pass this bill, but there are many situations where liberals openly brag about their ability to get conservatives to like them and vote for them. They even complain about more radical feminists and leftists “alienating” conservatives and being too critical of them (e.g. “How dare you be so mean to Tony Abbott, oh the poor Prime Minister”.) Then there’s their wimpy approach to abortion (e.g. “How dare you talk about abortion without implying that it is the most horrible thing ever, you shouldn’t even be saying the word, it will scare the conversatives”.) Somehow they get to kiss conservative ass for years and then when “sex-negative” feminists get conservatives to support something (without apologies and ass kissing) they get mad and accuse the former of being conservatives. Maybe they are jealous. They did all that sucking up and they didn’t get the conservatives to like them, LOL.

    Furthermore, anti-prostitution feminists would not have had to ally with conservatives, if the liberals had allied with them (like leftists in other countries have.) Instead they treated anti-prostitution feminists like garbage for years and then got accept that they did not side with them. Liberals need to learn that they get what give when dealing with radicals and that conservatives aren’t going to like them no matter what. In high school, they were the ones telling the rest of us not to change ourselves for the popular kids. Now that is exactly what they want radicals to do. “Don’t change, you’re perfect just the way you are” unless of course you’re “sex negative” or you change their relativistic thinking in some other way, then they see you as scum.

    • Hector_St_Clare

      Abortion is murder, so yes, it’s one of the most horrible things ever. If you stand for abortion rights, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

      For the record, I believe that prostitution should be legal and abortion should not be.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Whoops! You’re banned, Hector_St_Clare.

        • marv

          Yes. What a dreadful man.

      • FrustratedRadFem

        So it’s ok to buy access to a woman that doesn’t want to have sex? But if she falls pregnant and terminates it she’s the one in the wrong? So basically it’s ok for men to use women’s bodies but women really own their own body? In other word we are a resource that can be turned into a commodity. Why do care about the potential of a new life instead of the life that is being abused currently.

        If a woman falls pregnant from a john, is he too responsible for the resulting ‘death’?

  • Missfit

    When I come across something in mainstream news having to do with this law, they always make sure to report comments from selected sex workers who claim that this bill is about taking away women’s rights. I never hear about survivors’ stories or women working within affected communities. Women who do not know much about prostitution (and I think for many of them they prefer not to even think about the reality of it) are influenced/confused by this one-sided reporting and faux-feminism rethoric, even though they know in their guts (when they give themselves the permission to look there) that prostitution is bad for women. People want to belive in harm reductions because they have been told repeatedly (and conveniently) that prostitution will never go away. Information about the Nordic model and its effects and the effects of legalization should be provided, analyzed. But they prefer to frame the debate around issues of moralism. Most men object the bill. Men’s voices are louder, imposing, sometimes threatening. Most women do not want to pass for prudes and close-minded (so not cool!) and it’s always easier and safer to go with where male-approval is. And men play on that.

    I read an article in mainstreasm media written by a woman reporting on DSK and how he treated women like objects he could use as he pleased. I’ve looked at the comments to see man after man accusing society of prudery and the author of being moralist. Is caring about women as human beings deserving of integrity and safety from harm what moralism has become to mean? You can call me a moralist as much as you want then.

  • Robyn Taylor

    As somebody who has worked with prostitutes in a law enforcement capacity and a social work capacity I take issue with some of the statements in this article. I am not going to say Im against this bill,but Im not a hardcore supporter of it either. Im glad the sex workers have relief from prosecution. Now to say that this is not some moral statement is a little disingenuous. There is a debate to be had about how much an environment that tolerates prostitution facilitates “”forced” trafficking,but neither side has offered any compelling evidence.

    You stated that “”Falle has been working with women in prostitution since 2001, and out of the hundreds of women who have filled out intake surveys, she says 97 per cent of them wanted to get out of the industry.”” Im going to ignore that this a self reported survey and not a scientific one,and say that just because people dont like their job,does not mean the consumer should be criminalized. The fact that you think working at Mcdonalds is more virtuous than being a prostitute is a moral position it is not based on any hard science it all comes down to your feelings about sex.

    You also stated that”” The “consenting adults” we keep hearing about make up only a tiny percentage of the industry”” You have no stats to back that up. We do know that 95% of the woman arrested for prostitution are adults. Unless underage girls are better at not being caught by the cops its safe to assume most prostitutes are adults. Now on the issue of consent in the context of trafficking or being forced against their will According to the report, the NHTRC has recorded more than 9,000 cases of potential human trafficking between 2007 and 2012. Only nine thousand victims of trafficking some of whom are domestic workers and the others are sex trafficking. There is an estimated 2 million prostitutes in the U.S. Those stats imply only a small percentage are trafficked.

    In law enforcement every girl we saw with a pimp was not with a pimp by force. In fact pimps often have high turnover,because most girls leave them to go independent or with other pimps. I only saw one case of a kidnapping of a girl when she left a pimp. Even the term pimp does not apply to a great deal of these situation,because alot of the girls live alone and only take calls when they want,but they have to give a percentage of all the dates the pimp sets up for them. These guys are basically managers,situation do turn violent over arguments about percentages,but no one is forced to take jobs they dont want.

    Dealing with issue of consent in the context of girls who come from bad situation turning to sex to survive. Once again this a moral argument,we all have to work to survive,because we live in a capitalistic society,if you feel that sex work is less virtuous again thats based on your moral feelings about sex. If you want to end all inequality,you can try but there is a reason why communism failed,its against human nature. The best thing we have is capitalism with social programs,but there will always be inequality. The question is how much and I really dont see anybody reducing inequality beyond what Sweden and Norway has done without limiting progress or undermining democracy. Sweden is about as much as a liberal in North America can ask for,and for political reasons and limitation of democracy that probably will not even happen. They still have prostitution in those countries even with the most generous welfare system a modern day democracy can probably produce.

    I am glad woman are free from persecution,but feel this law will still result in stigmatization of prostitutes,because of the illegal purchase element . Stigmatization makes it hard for sex workers to find quality support in the sex work trade,because how many decent people are going to want to help in a trade where the consumption is illegal. This leads to a cycle of shady individuals and low quality clientele in the trade,which ruins sex workers quality of life.

    I think this bill was a decent compromise,but still a slippery slope towards totalitarianism.

    • FrustratedRadFem

      HA HA HA no. You are so full of shit i don’t know where to begin.

      “I think this bill was a decent compromise,but still a slippery slope towards totalitarianism.”
      What does this even mean? be more specific. We live in a world where men can buy and sell women and girls and still have supporters, where men get shorter jail sentences for killing their wives or girlfriends but if women or girls kill the men who abuse or pimps them for years she gets a much longer sentence. Rapes are uploaded onto the internet and sold to porn sites and it is indistinguishable from the rest of the content. If the police wanted to they could make anti littering laws fascist

      You could make anti littering laws fascist but why is the nordic model considered potentially fascist even though the results in Sweden show otherwise. We already live in totalitarian society haven’t you seen the way the world treats women, muslims, black people, immigrants and other minorities. As for the slippery slope argument how come when feminists argue this it isn’t considered legitimate no matter what our reasoning we are just exaggerating. But if men use this argument often without explaining why, then that something everybody has to consider? Explain how these new laws can be use in a fascist way or get out.

      “Im going to ignore that this a self reported survey and not a scientific one,and say that just because people dont like their job”
      So much for listening to women in the sex industry. Women in the industry often report they hate it but can’t escape it and don’t want others to join the industry. Basically, you tacitly admit they don’t like it and don’t want to be there (what’s it called when someone doesn’t want to have sex but they are made to anyway?) and your response is ‘well you got yourself into it you can get yourself out’. You fail to see your own contradiction you blame them for their circumstances but when we try to make sense of what’s happening to them and actually try to help them you feel it’s your place to tell us we aren’t doing it right. There plenty of studies showing the harm the sex industry does to the women and girls in it, non-prostituted women and girls and society as whole, they aren’t hard to find.

      In your comment judged them according to your standards and ignore the barriers that are in place and disregard their own personal limitations. Sort of like people telling people with depression to ‘snap out of it’ and ‘it’s all in your head’. Right wingers take this position all the time when they blame people for poverty. They ignore that you can’t pull yourself into a higher economic class by the boot straps. But we are the ones being judgemental for saying that johns and pimps are wrong.

      Whenever I talk to men who defend prostitution/pornography they tell you that you’re being judgmental (yet feel it’s their right to judge how attractive they find them). When you show them the evidence that the vast majority of women and girls in the sex industry are being harmed and exploited they turn into Frollo very quickly. Men who use pornography/prostitution are stuck in the madonna/whore world view if you question their actions it shows.

      Actually most prostituted women start as children the average age is 14 but it is often lower. The majority of women are there because of poverty, coercion and force, whenever they do studies they always show there are high rates of previous sexual abuse (especially as children) and drug addictions. Do not compare being paid to be sexually violated and physically attacked to an actual job EVER, regardless of how shitty that job is. Don’t make light of sexual assault and abuse. I mean really, you’re comparing being sexually violated to a minimum wage job. If you think we are against prostitution because it’s not ‘virtuous’ then you are a dickhead the women pushing this bill were former prostituted women. Many feminists are against it because they’ve been prostituted and have been harmed by it. The bill and the nordic model is supported by trafficked and exploited women and girls disproportionately Indigenous women (Cherry Smiley was one notable woman). The correctly identify prostitution as a part of the colonisation process like those schools they were made go to.

      Why do you say moral argument like it’s a bad thing? It is morally/ethically wrong to take advantage of women and children in desperate situations. A decent man understands this but apparently that is aiming too high. Why does saying this make us kind of jesus freak? It’s true you don’t need religion to tell you what’s right or wrong that doesn’t mean you drop the concept of right and wrong all together and try to play at being some kind of nietzsche wannabe. What you are doing is called is moral relativism, this position frames all actions as neutral and contextless and equates all actions and circumstances with each other. This of course is bullshit. Moral relativists like the idea that they in charge of what is moral, they just think that nothing should be considered truly moral or not. They are sitting on their own throne of false superiority but if you interfere with something they want to keep than of course you are in the wrong.

      Many former prostituted women disdain the term ‘sex worker’ because it sanitises what is really being done many call it ‘paid rape’. Check out Cherry Smiley, Rachael Moran, Jacqueline Homan and many other exited women they have talks on you tube and blogs.

      Rachael Moran’s blog:
      http://theprostitutionexperience.com

      Cherry Smiley:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boEeRMpE_pw
      http://feministcurrent.com/8893/podcast-cherry-smiley-on-indigenous-feminism-colonial-violence-and-the-sex-industry/
      http://feministcurrent.com/10366/whats-current-cherry-smiley-says-real-change-for-aboriginal-women-begins-with-the-end-of-prostitution/

      Jacqueline Homan:
      https://godlessfeminist.wordpress.com

      And there are plenty of women from the legal porn industry speaking out but women’s voices are only heard if they say it’s all cool.

      Pimps are controlling men they are basically advanced domestic abusers, they not only physically threaten women and girls they have a whole range of tactics to keep her in place.

      Financial- they control the money, how much she can keep as if it’s his money, he often tells her how she can spend hers, he also makes her pay for expenses that should be covered by him or are just tip off to his buddies, they know she is unlikely to find a decent job and take advantage of that, it’s either be with him or take your chances alone and when you are a woman alone onWhy does saying this make me some kind of jesus freak? It’s true you don’t need religion to tell you what’s right or wrong that doesn’t mean you drop the concept of right and wrong all together and try to play at being some kind of nietzsche wannabe. What you are doing is called is moral relativism, this basically equates all action with each other as if all crimes are equal

      Psychological- Pimps like to induce stockholm syndrome, it’s no wonder they women say they are ‘fine’ if you work in law enforcement you should know better. If you act they way you do at work like you do in this comment section of course they wouldn’t trust you. Pimps threaten, terrorise, condescend and scorn, harass, verbally abuse, play upon vulnerabilities, especially if she has trauma, mental illness or an addiction. They isolate their ’employees’ and then threaten to take away what little she has, they often threaten her children, blackmail her (they often have plenty of ‘evidence’ they would put on the internet if she doesn’t behave). They have all sorts of manipulative tactics to keep women silent and compliant.

      Addictions- whether it’s illicit, prescription or alcoholic, you aren’t in the state of mind to make rational decisions if you are under the influence. If you can’t drive while you are high or drunk you can’t give consent to sex. If you have an addiction and need that next fix the buyer is raping you if they have paid sex with you because the power imbalance is so out balance that the buyers. If someone is in a physiological state where they are desperate for another fix or are out of touch with reality they can’t consent.

      Where are your statistics from? the 95% arrested being adults sound pure bullshit. Are they correctly identified as adults (she looks older, her id is fake) or are young girls found but not arrested because they are underage and can’t legally be charged. Where was that data collection done what where the parameters? The major events like Super Bowl or world cups are often caught trafficking women and children. We know that prostitution is intergenerational and that the customers don’t wait for girls to mature (that would give them a chance). Youth is always in demand and johns do not care if they are children or if they being coerced or outright forced or have an addiction.
      Workers who live in places where there insufficient workplace health and safety laws, still need to work still have to do what they had to even if back breaking work, the machines could mutilate them, they had no union or labour laws, develop disease, injuries, lose limbs and even things develop things like rotten jaws due to chemical exposure. I guess anyone who tries to stop the exploitation, dangerous working conditions and cruel bosses are just being moralists. Which of course ignores the fact that sex isn’t work it’s men coercing and forcing women to sexually service them.

      P.S. You said you work in law enforcement, if I went to the police for help no matter what it was, I wouldn’t trust you.

      • ArgleBargle

        To FrustratedRadFem: Yes, this! Perfectly said.

        As for Robyn Taylor, if you truly work in social services, please remove yourself asap. I fear for any prostituted person who may feel, based on your position, that your advice is worth listening to.

        • FrustratedRadFem

          Thank you ArgleBargle (if you don’t mind me asking? what does your name mean?) I made some mistakes because I was cutting and pasting but my point still stands. The Nordic model isn’t fascist or potentially fascist, unless you consider men longer having access to women and children’s bodies a human right and denying access an act hostility. If you do think this you are a misogynist and are really dangerous.

          • ArgleBargle

            Lol! ArgleBargle has a few meanings – the one closest to my intention is a derivative and reduplication of the 16th century Scottish argle (argue), or a “lively debate or wrangling”. Sadly, sometimes what I post is closer to the other definition, “profuse but meaningless chatter or writing”.

            I do enjoy reading your insightful posts here, as well as those from the other commentators, very interesting and thought provoking.

      • Laur

        FrustratedRadFem and ArgleBargle:

        That people who hold views such as “Robyn’s” are active in police and social work is scary. This was my first thought as I delved into their post. Saying that prostitution is like many shitty jobs and ignoring what survivors say is misogynist. In prostitution, women are turned into three holes and two hands. Remind me again how that is like other jobs?

        Argh. Don’t get me started.

        • FrustratedRadFem

          I’m not sure whether or not they are actually whether or not if Robyn is social worker or not but I don’t trust men who say they know sex workers who say they like the job or are fine. Most prostituted women keep that quiet not even their families know. How and why do you know ‘sex workers’? Why would they tell you that they are a ‘sex worker’? Why would they feel they need to talk about the job with you?……………

          I know we’ve all had shitty jobs or people at work who were assholes but if the physically or sexually hurt you they get fired or arrested. Is there a HR department in legal brothels, if so what exactly do they do? How do they assist ‘sex workers’ who have an issue with the conditions, the pay, other employees, the ‘customers’?

          I’ve had a job as a receptionist, there was a panic button and guess what I never needed it, though somebody else accidentally bumped it. Even with drug addicted people and the was one time a cranky man who turned out to be a domestic abuser. There was a threat yet no violence occurred (sexual or physical) happened to any of the employees and if it did the police would be there quick smart. In legal brothels they not only have a panic button just in case (of what?) the rooms need may have security guards, they ‘customers’ need to be check for weapons and anything that may be used a one (belts will be taken) the rooms have to be set up so there isn’t anything that could be used to attack the ‘sex worker’. Pillows aren’t allowed (so much for comfort) in many legal brothels because they can be used to smother her and electric cords are forbidden because they can be used to whip or choke the women in the room. If they hire them, the security guards stands outside the door (which isn’t private) and whether he interrupts is up to him. Because she is relying on his protection she is dependent on him, so much for the ‘independent woman’ narrative. Of course can invade her privacy and ask for or demand sexual favours. Security guards often are supposed to be tipped by the ‘sex workers’ which isn’t their responsibility because the employers are supposed to pay the wages not the employees. That is exploitation but then again this is prostitution.

          Men will defend porn/prostitution but will openly describe the things that is done to women and girls in the sex industry, like sucking dick or taking up the ass as degrading and something they wish on people they find annoying. They give themselves away so easily.

    • “it all comes down to your feelings about sex”

      No. It all comes down to our feelings about buying (or renting) human beings.

      (Rental properties fare even worse than single-owner ones, so it’s hard to make the argument that it’s a big improvement over classical slavery.)

      All your other points are based on a distinction between selling sex and selling the humans providing masturbatory receptacles for the buyer. If there were a distinction, your points are valid. If there isn’t — and to me it’s hard to see how there could be since someone who doesn’t want service can buy a blowup doll — then you need to think a bit about your attitudes.

      • FrustratedRadFem

        These guys have a a lot of feelings about sex especially when their access to women’s bodies is being negated or questioned. Mostly rage and self pity.

    • Mar Iguana

      “We do know that 95% of the woman arrested for prostitution are adults. Unless underage girls are better at not being caught by the cops its safe to assume most prostitutes are adults.”

      I went to high school with a guy who became a cop in the LAPD vice squad in Hollywood. He told me he was about the only cop on that beat who would arrest underage girls because it took so much more paperwork and time to process minors. He said he had never talked to one of these girls who had not ended up there because they were running away from incest and/or sexual abuse.

      It is safe to assume you are an idiot.

      • Robyn Taylor

        Anecdotal evidence versus actual police records. I can also quote studies from a federal task force done in New York City that states out of 4,000 prostitutes in New York,there were only three hundred were underage.That is off a self reported survey,but the author of this post used self reported survey’s to support her argument as well.

        • Leah

          According to the Toronto Police Sex Crimes unit, the average age of entry into prostitution in Canada is 14. If you’re looking for research, take a look at the Department of Justice Technical Paper for this bill located here: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/other-autre/protect/p1.html

          • Robyn Taylor

            thats the age of entry,not the average girl on the stret. If the average girl on street was 14 that would mean the majority of John arrested would also get a statutory rape charge. I use to process girls after stings,these charges do not come forth because it is usually proven the girl was over 18.

          • Meghan Murphy

            So it’s not ok when she’s 14, 15, 16, 17, then suddenly she has a birthday and it’s all good? Why are we erasing the face that sexual abuse leads women/girls into prostitution and that it isn’t simply a neutral ‘choice’?

        • FrustratedRadFem

          *Only* three hundred, really? How many were there before their 18th (or 16th if that’s what the law allows). If she’s been prostituted for 8 years and she’s twenty three doesn’t that concern you at all? How many of the adults were being abused and wanted to leave?

    • Hector_St_Clare

      I’m close to being a communist, but trading money for sex will always exist, even under communism, just like it does in Cuba. This is basic human nature. Men use status to gain sex, women use sex to gain status. Occasionally the other way around. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Sex doesn’t give women status. If it did then why would men use sex to punish and degrade women?

      • amongster

        Do you even understand communism? I feel like most men don’t cause they can’t even imagine a world in which women are not a subclass and always struggling to gain status because men keep them down. You are a good example why I don’t trust male leftists. Most of you have not a fucking idea what it’s like to be oppressed.
        Basic human nature, my ass! Just because you are rotten doesn’t mean all humans are.

      • marv

        Cuba is not communist. Workers and the public at large don’t run the economy and government. The Cuban model is state capitalism. If you can’t see the difference you are not close to being a communist.

        Patriarchy (male structures) is the foundation of capitalism in both its private and state forms. To assert women obtain standing by selling sex is analogous to workers acquiring stature working for capital. Human nature has nothing to do with these arrangements.

        The fact that you see no problem with prostitution is because your consciousness is asleep from social training. Wakey wakey.

    • Sabine

      I couldn’t read past the McDonalds comment in Robyn Taylor’s post. Ok, so according to you not enjoying being fucked by countless men for a living is the same as not enjoying your job in a fast food joint. ARE. YOU. FUCKING. SERIOUS?????

  • Pingback: Blow to Anti-Prostitution Bill in Canada | Sound Choices Coalition()

  • Robyn Taylor

    “”Where are your statistics from? the 95% arrested being adults sound pure bullshit. Are they correctly identified as adults (she looks older, her id is fake) or are young girls”” You do realize there are machines that can tell if an ID is fake,bouncers use them all the time. If a girl cant produce an ID when she is arrested than forensics expert is brought in or a medical professional who can narrow her age down to a year. They can also use dental records.

    Having a drug addiction or a mental illness Ex (Schizophrenia,Bipolar disorder) does not mean you cant give legal consent for sex,this has already been debated in multiple court cases. There are people who are married to people with these disorders. According to mental case law,these people can make decision for themselves which is why they cant be committedto an asylum. The only people who cant give consent are people deemed legally retarded,and those people would be put under the care of a guardian or the state.If your mentally retarded you probably cant function as a prostitute any way.

    Abuses happen in every industry. The domestic worker industry is full of abuses. There was a story of five Filipino woman being forced to work as maids in California just over a year ago. Should we ban all maid services. Migrant workers get abused in agriculture are you going to stop buying produce from the store.The smartphone you own was made in a sweat shop in China,from people working to feed their families in harsh condition.

    Now if you guys are willing to make all consumers of these services criminals,I will be sympathetic to your position.

    “”(Rental properties fare even worse than single-owner ones, so it’s hard to make the argument that it’s a big improvement over classical slavery.)””

    Because absent third party force if they want to quit they can. Millions of people get up and do things they dont want to do to feed themselves and families that is not slavery. Millions of people have limited career opportunities,because of the economic class they were born in that is not slavery. I am not oppose to social programs to help these people,but given reality,there will always be people with more than others.

    In the end like I said Im not oppose to the law,but to act like this is not sex moralism is disingenuous. My issue is I don’t like moral totalitarianism whether its coming from a feminist or a right winger.

    • Laur

      ” Millions of people get up and do things they don’t want to do to feed themselves and families that is not slavery. Millions of people have limited career opportunities,because of the economic class they were born in that is not slavery. I am not oppose to social programs to help these people,but given reality,there will always be people with more than others.”

      I actually would call capitalism as under the current economic system a form of slavery.

      This is different, however, than being sexually abused over and over and having money thrown at you. There’s a reason some survivors of prostitution call it “paid rape.” Not being sexually harassed on the job is a human right. How are women not going to be sexually harassed while in the sex trade? Do you really think strip clubs are going to become free of sexual harassment?

      You’re comfortable telling ex-prostitutes their “job” is little different than “any other” shitty job. Are you comfortable telling fast-food workers, construction workers, or retail workers their job is little different than prostitution?

      Lori Watson has a great article on how prostitution is different than real work here: http://logosjournal.com/2014/watson/

      Many survivors of prostitution say that while in “the life” they felt the only thing they were good at was giving blowjobs. Prostitution feeds on the vulnerabilities of girls and women and some boys and men who have previously been abused. Self-hate can lead to prostitution, and it only gets worse as one enters “the life.” Note that the phrase “the life” would imply something much more than a job.

      There are numerous women who describe how childhood sexual abuse was a direct factor in their entering the sex trade. The blogger Rebecca Mott is one of these people. Then there are the teenage runaways who see their only option as working on the street. Rachel Moran, the author quoted in the OP, was a runaway. In her book, she talks about how her life would have been very different if her only option was to work as a hairdresser (for example).

      Prostitution is not “sex,” at least not from the prostituted’s point of view. Rather, it is sexual abuse. And abuse is not something one should be free to choose to inflict on another human being. Which is where the Nordic Model comes in. Sex is something we should be having because we want to have sex with the person(s) we are having sex with, not because one party needs money or drugs. Again, this makes prostitution profoundly different than actual work.

      • Hector_St_Clare

        “Sex is something we should be having because we want to have sex with the person(s) we are having sex with, not because one party needs money or drugs”.

        What? Why?

        • Meghan Murphy

          Because sex — in an equal world that respects human beings — should be something that is mutually enjoyed and desired by both parties.

        • FrustratedRadFem

          Because sex is supposed to pleasurable not demeaning. Memorable not traumatic. You’re supposed to feel good and feel good about yourself not feel numb and disgusted, and blame yourself for it. I don’t know how else to explain this. Sex is *supposed* to be a meeting of the minds having a nice experience with each other (you don’t even need to be in love for this just mutually respect and trust each other) not a conquest or a business deal.

    • hak

      “”Abuses happen in every industry.””

      omg, can we like stop with this liberal nonsense? you can’t compare rape -institutionalized rape/rape culture- with another abuse ffs
      rape=/=murder=/=torture=/=etc … does this really need to be said? srsly?

      this relativism has so many consequences, and one of these consequences is to banalize the abuse as something common and natural: “oh well shit happens everywhere anyway lolol”. The whole point of this is to protect men: we shouldn’t understand why they treat women as objects, that objectification is just “an abuse like any other, don’t ask why”, riiiiiight. It’s also very essentialist, you don’t even point out how, for who, and because of what prostitution exists.
      men who objectify women do it because culture teaches them to do so, culture teaches them that sexuality=objectifying women, it’s not natural or wrote in their DNA, and religious/moralist are all pro-prostitution ever since the Roman Empire, so your attempt to defame abolitionists as “sex moralist” doesn’t work.
      (Or maybe you think that whoever is critical/non liberal is a moralist, and if that’s the case I can’t help you here)
      On the other hand prostitution is clearly a conservative and misogynist institution.

      • Morag

        Excellent comment, hak.

        ‘this relativism has so many consequences, and one of these consequences is to banalize the abuse as something common and natural: “oh well shit happens everywhere anyway lolol”. ‘

        Yes. This relativism works in the other direction, too.

        There is a relationship between the use and abuse of women in prostitution and all that “shit that happens everywhere” in other industries. In capitalist-patriarchy, ALL of it — the greater and lesser abuses — is banalized and naturalized. Therefore, the most horrifying abuses experienced by prostituted girls and women function to keep the majority of people who have escaped prostitution silent and “content” with their lot as abused workers.

        So, on the one hand, all abuse is the same, and abuse is natural because “shit happens everywhere” and, on the other, being raped to make a living is implicitly acknowledged as the most dehumanizing “work” a person can be forced to do relative to other industries. These are contradictory positions, but both types of relativism operate at the same time. To the benefit of ALL men (the most AND the least privileged men) because they all, with only a few exceptions, benefit from standing well above the sex/prostituted class of girls and women.

    • FrustratedRadFem

      Except the abuse is inherent in prostitution because that’s the job. Point over there when we are talking about over here is a classic derail tactic. Don’t even try it.

      You still didnt explain how these laws could be ‘totalitarian’ (do you mean it’s to harsh for men to be held accoutable for their abusive, violent actions. There is no body count because of these laws but prostitution is ‘profession’ with the highest body count .
      Men who use prostitution/pornography see women as lesser and disposable, feminist see all women full human beings.

       Feminists stating that’s it’s wrong to exploit women and that the standards of genuine consent are higher than you  seem to think. Nothing feminists support is totalitarian. Comparing right wingers to feminists is false equivalence and you know it. Stop concern trolling.

       Men make the laws that affect women’s lives and enforce them as they please. Men also own basically everything and make the unofficial rules women must abide by for face the consequences. It is privileged for you to worry about imaginary ‘totalitarianism’ regarding prostitution, when women are worried about avoiding abuse and being believed.  If men obey the law and don’t buy women and girls then they will be fine. If he goes ahead and does anyway these laws are designed for prostitutes women to turn in violent or non paying men. If he behaves he should be fine.

      Honestly men who worry about ‘the man’ never consider that they may be the ‘the man’ to women. Your concerns are laughable you are scared of what exactly? Women having a chance at a better life? Having their abusers see justice? 
      What exactly are you on about? Do you find domestic violence laws feminists crafted to be totalitarian?

      • FrustratedRadFem

        You do realise that machines can be deceived and so can humans? Traffickers pull this shit all the time and try to pass of false documentation as her fault not organised criminals. They often lye women in with false promises then trap them.
        What if those machine unavailable or unreliable? Or that she started as a child but grew into it? Or if she’s an adult and found herself in this situation.

        In Germany prostitution is legal the union tried to get prostituted women to join for benefits but less than 5% joined because they didn’t want to be known prostitute or were trafficked (often from Eastern Europe). If foreign domestic workers are often abused what makes you think it’s
        not happening worse in prostitution considering the nature of it.

      • Robyn Taylor

        “”You still didnt explain how these laws could be ‘totalitarian’ (do you mean it’s to harsh for men to be held accoutable for their abusive, violent actions”” How is telling two adults under what circumstances they can have sex is not totalitarian. Atleast the anti-drug people can argue people under the influence are a threat to innocent by standers.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Ok so is prostitution simply a transaction or is it sex? Do you think capitalism should be unregulated? Do you think sex should be a noncoercive, mutually desired/enjoyable experience for both parties? You can’t have it both ways…

          • Robyn Taylor

            I dont think unregulated capitalism,would be sustainable in a democracy or republic, Communism is not sustainable either,nor is socialism. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the failure of socialism to work in early colonies in the Americas prove that. People will always have innate or external advantages over others. If we said tomorrow every body gets 50k in income,do you think anybody is going to serve your food or fix your bridges. The best thing we have is regulated capitalism with social programs to alleviate extreme poverty and promote upward mobility. We still dont live in a world where people can lay around all day and expect a 2 bedroom flat in a nice suburb. I dont think the majority of even liberal countries would support such a world.

            From a legal stand point sex should be consensual. Some woman have sex just to please their partner. They may value other aspects of the relationship like the emotional or security aspect. If someone wants to have un enjoyable sex,because they feel its good trade off then they should be able to.

            If you want to promote consensual enjoyable sex from a moral standpoint thats fine,but dont use the state starts telling adults under what circumstances they can have sex

          • Meghan Murphy

            Of course socialism is sustainable. You don’t seem to understand what socialism is, is the problem.

            If you don’t want the “state telling adults under what circumstances they can have sex” should we decriminalize rape?

          • Robyn Taylor

            Rape and domestic violence is not consensual,but if a girl wants to have sex because she does not want to work at mcdonalds. I feel like I dont have any right to come between that. Unless she has been declared mentally incompetent by that state.

          • “if a girl wants to have sex because she does not want to work at mcdonalds. I feel like I dont have any right to come between that.”

            Oh come of it, Robyn Taylor. If you are being honest here, which I sincerely doubt, you are living in a fantasy land. A cruel one. Your deliberate oblivion to the lived reality of prostituted women, including commenters here and those whose writings are posted and linked all over this blog, is appalling.

            And stop using the term “have sex”. Would you call enduring being penetrated by some man you feel no attraction for, for as long as it take for him to get himself off “having sex”? If you are a straight male, it makes not difference. Having someone inside of you that you have no desire for is a violation no matter what fancy-ass B.S. you dress it up in. If you can live through such a thing and still call it “having sex”, then I submit that you are extremely sex-negative.

          • Sabine

            Judging by your comments, Robyn Taylor, I am surprised YOU haven’t been declared mentally incompetent by the state. Ah, but of course, your warped (lack of) perspective is very much in tune with said state. And what a state it is.

          • Laur

            I’m not sure if your response was a reply to what I said, or to somebody else, or just something you wanted to state.

            I did discuss women who feel compelled to “act out” their sexual abuse by having sex most would consider dangerous and unhealthy. This is not something these women are “choosing” to do in any real sense of the word. It’s like an inner force is driving them to it. Some women will try different things to prevent them from, say, prostituting, to no avail. They find themselves obsessing over going out to prostitute throughout the day. Psychotherapists call this PTSD. This has nothing to do with the right-wing “morality” approach. If you cannot see women who prostitute themselves as people who are, almost always, in terrible pain, you are utterly lacking in compassion.

            You mention the so-called “war on drugs” in another one of your posts. Drugs and access to vaginas and every other part of a human body is comparing apples and giraffes. In the case of drugs, if they’re legalized, there is no real reason for an underground market. With prostitution, acts that are not considered legal will still be demanded by dudes and the most vulnerable women, women who cannot, for whatever reason, survive in the legal sector, will end up “working” illegally.

            No, law is not going to completely eliminate prostitution. But we can decrease the buying of human bodies. We can also stigmatize johns. They should be the one receiving the contempt that so-called “prostitutes/whores” currently receive.

            Robyn, I’m going to ask you flat out: what is your stake in this? Do you buy sex?

        • FrustratedRadFem

          Except as I stated, it’s often not adults or consenting. We have anti-domestic violence laws that ‘interfere’ with adult relationships are you against that? Despite the nature of abuse often leads to the abused dependent on the abuser often resulting in Stockholm syndrome?

          The state will have influence anyway if you are arguing for small(er) government do you argue against anti-violence against women laws. Also totalitarianism means that the state interferes with people in a much more involved way, the Nordic model is more hands off and doesn’t force women to do anything. They are offered help if they take it up then isn’t that their choice? Do even understand political ideology or do you just taking the ‘what goes on between two people is their business’ attitude to seriously.

          The Nordic model is more like the laws that goes after drug dealers and manufacturers but order addicts to go to rehabs. Laws like that allow health clinics to treat drug users and have them drop off their used needles and get some more (free or affordable). It’s like how the ambulance workers just want to know what you took so they can help you not so they can report you. Saying ‘none of your business’ when you Overdose is silly. Do you find those laws ‘totalitarian’, if so where I live is very ‘totalitarian’.

        • FrustratedRadFem

          Men who use prostitution are a threat to women (prostituted or otherwise). Men take out their aggression against women out on the women the pay to have sex with. The Invisible John blog on tumblr showcases the johns in their own words and what they actually think and actually do. These guys are dangerous and abusivre. They just find the acceptable targets.

          http://the-invisible-men.tumblr.com/

          I don’t know about you but I’d prefer drug users on the streets than these guys.

    • bella_cose

      It’s not sex moralist, it’s acting on the belief that women are human beings and shouldn’t have to settle for being treated as semen receptacles in order to survive.

      I honestly do not believe you work in law/social services, and the arguments you’ve made sound suspiciously similar to those that might be made by a pimp or a john.

    • “Im not oppose to the law,but to act like this is not sex moralism is disingenuous.”

      To read the statistics and analysis; to read the survivor accounts; to consider the working conditions in Germany and New Zealand verses Sweden and Norway; and to reduce all of that evidence to people thinking sex is dirty is to be a liar. With all of the evidence on this blog alone, let alone the many other resources linked here, or what you would witness yourself if you truly are in a position to interact with prostituted people in your job, I can’t couch it in more diplomatic terms – your nonsense does not merit it. Maybe you are lying to yourself and you actually believe your own bullshit, but either way, it is tragic for the prostituted people for whom you hold some responsibility.

      “Dealing with issue of consent in the context of girls who come from bad situation turning to sex to survive. Once again this a moral argument,we all have to work to survive,because we live in a capitalistic society,if you feel that sex work is less virtuous again thats based on your moral feelings about sex.”

      Again, there you go with the bizarre reduction to “morals”. The notion that low-income children should not work in debilitating factory conditions six days a week is no more about “moral feelings about cotton” than believing economically disadvantaged women and children should not have to submit to sexual abuse to survive. Yes, it’s moral to not want certain people’s lives to be destroyed by other people. Morals, at their base, are simply the capacity to give a shit about other people, a concept with which you seem to have a fundamental issue.

      Re your anti-morality position: is having a moral centre, like maybe thinking that the torture and disposal of certain people for the entertainment of others is worthy of the designation “wrong”, or that the system (of which you are clearly an active member with your false equivalencies and misrepresentations) that upholds and enables such action is “wrong”, something you categorically dismiss? Are you open about your libertinism or do you apply the same twisted rationale and pretend to give a shit about other people’s experiences?

      You grasp at imaginary differences between “anecdotal evidence”, the label you give to sociological survey techniques (guess what: they call that “science” too!) and “science”, which I can only take to mean that unless prostituted humans can be stuffed into some imaginary petrie dish in a controlled laboratory setting, you are going to turn a blind eye to any evidence, including the reports from the people themselves, so you can fanatically cling to your neoliberal beliefs. Of course you’re “not opposed to the law”, yet you offer up a heap of insubstantial argument against it, throwing around irrelevant terms like “virtue” and “totalitarianism” in opposition to the intent of the legislation. You really don’t hold any position at all. I’ll take a wild guess: you’re just counting down the days to your pension when you won’t have to deal with these ethical challenges regarding people about whom you ultimately do not care.

      It’s quite ironic that so many people who subscribe to enlightened rationality and who label anyone who offers evidence-based critiques of social exploitation of women and children for the sexual gratification of men with money as being simplistic “believers” in some outdated and detached moralizing (as per the christian right) are, in fact, reenacting that exact blind irrational belief – only this time it’s a worship of male supremacy via masturbation and rape. It’s the same “god the father” poison in secular get up.

      • Robyn Taylor

        Again, there you go with the bizarre reduction to “morals”. The notion that low-income children should not work in debilitating factory conditions six days a week is no more about “moral feelings about cotton”

        We regulate what conditions people can work in a factory. We dont make consumers of factory products criminals. You are referring to labor laws as it relates to what condition companies have to provide there employees. Having sex in a hotel room with a stranger is not the same thing as working in building full of asbestos. You may think having sex with a stranger in a hotel room is unbearable,but other people dont.

        • Laur

          It’s not just “having sex in a hotel room with a stranger.” It’s the addition of money, or drugs, or a place to sleep that is the force. However, if a woman is sleeping with hotel rooms with strangers, I would worry about her safety. But there’s nothing morally wrong with that. Some women feel compelled to sleep with stranger after stranger, and participate in increasingly unsafe sexual practices, as a direct result of childhood sexual abuse. But, more often than not, they “choose” prostitution for this acting out (don’t really like the term “acting out” but can’t think of a better term).

          You are the one, Robyn, who brought up that (supposedly) “we” think it’s immoral to sell sex. Feminists think nothing of the kind. We do think it’s deeply immoral to BUY sex, especially under current conditions. We came to that conclusion, those feminists who were not previously in the sex-trade, by listening to what survivors of the sex trade said.

          • FrustratedRadFem

            Prostitution isn’t casual sex, you know that right?

            Neither are very good for women and are extremely risky with little pay-off but when there is no money exchange or other coercion. It’s far more believable that she actually wants to be there.

        • “Having sex in a hotel room with a stranger is not the same thing as working in building full of asbestos. You may think having sex with a stranger in a hotel room is unbearable,but other people dont.”

          What a disingenuous comment. No one said having sex in a hotel room with a stranger is unbearable. No one said it was immoral.

          You dishonestly conflate choosing an attractive person and agreeing to have sex with him because you want to with an interaction for money where your best choice is to put limits on what you will endure and hope that he respects those limits.

          You realize that learning to “breathe through” being raped is part of the prostitutes skill set, don’t you?

          What are you trying to gain by diving into an exchange here and defending johns’ access to prostituted women without basic knowledge of what it is you are defending? Unless of course you benefit somehow from lying to everyone else if not yourself as to what that reality is…

          If you cannot converse in good faith, then please go away. Your arguments are an incoherent and meaningless waste of space.

          • Mar Iguana

            Thank you, lizor, along with the many brilliant commentators here on Meghan’s sanity-saving blog.

            Every time some obtuse putz starts trolling their crap around here my head explodes and thankfully by the time I get what’s left of my gray matter stuffed back into my brain pan so as to be able to formulate a coherent response to the willfull ignorance, you have taken care of the necessary truth-telling. I appreciate!

  • A Non-White US Lady

    I’d love to see how this goes in Canada. It’s absurd to see some liberal US Feminists reject the Nordic model as if it could possibly be worse than what’s going in the US with prostitutes being regularly arrested by the police and who fear reporting violent johns for fear of being arrested.

  • Iskwew

    ” But while the pomp and spectacle of the sex trade lobby carries on, the women affected by prostitution do the unglamorous — but
    necessary — work of healing themselves and helping others.”

    The survivors who shared their stories on the panel we’re incredible. But to assume that the self-identified sex workers on the panel “distanced” themselves from those narratives is presumptuous. They’re survivors too. You’re free to critique them but undermining women with different human rights views then yourself is not equality driven. It’s competitive and it separates us from actually bridging any differences as women. They should be dignified as doing healing too, I don’t get why all women on the panel can’t be portrayed equally- especially with the condescending stereotypes of Terri Jean Bedford. For the record the media has been one sided and dumbing down any critic of this bill, and nordic supporters have been far more covered and gained more support especially, from non-First nations. I understand some First Nations women spoke at the committees and we were cheering and crying for them but just as our nations/languages are highly complex and different, it doesn’t mean will have the same stories and views. I, and other Indigenous women identify both with abolition and sex work movements. Some of us Indigenous women are tired of being imposed into one category when talking about the sex trade, and yes some of us have different opinions on Bill c-36 and some us identify it as colonial and paternalistic and having roots in the Indian Act. Try that for a “sexy” or “cool” position, it is not. As we can be easily discredited by other Indigenous sisters who are also working on ending violence against women. I don’t even know what a “pro-prostitution lobby” is. What I can tell you is that I empathize with abolitionists and they have been a great assistance in my own healing journey of exploitation, but it was a sex work organization that assisted me in exiting/criminal harassment and it was culturally appropriate. For that I admire the work that everyone is doing. So please, with all due respect stop using terms like “pro prostitution lobby.” I don’t even know what that is, but it does imply that there are women who are not working to end the violence. That’s what everyone is here for.

    • Leah

      Bedford knows the sex industry very, very well. She has the same knowledge that Perrier and Falle have in terms of what it’s like and what goes on. They actually have a lot in common in terms of their life experiences. However, Bedford’s strategy is to pretend that prostitution is normal and acceptable. I support her as a person but I don’t support that strategy. I believe the way to support survivors is to name abuse as abuse, to condemn the abuse and to prevent it from happening to other women. Bedford, and the other survivors who are pro-decrim, are highly qualified to talk about the sex industry, but their strategy includes normalizing and sanitizing what really happens to make it sound like something that is acceptable. This is what I mean when I refer to the “pro-prostitution lobby.” There are organizations and individuals in Canada and around the world who seek to promote the sex industry as a legitimate choice and something women should have the “right” to do. This strategy, if made into law, would result in more women and girls being sexually exploited. If you don’t think the pro lobby exists, just talk to the exited women who speak out against the sex industry. They’re bullied and intimidated by the pro lobby every time they speak.

    • bella_cose

      I hear what you’re saying, and I respect that women have different experiences, based on many factors. That being said, I think it’s appropriate to talk about the pro prostitution lobby. Globally, this lobby advocates for the sex industry as various groups, but one thing those groups have in common is that they are overwhelmingly made up of pimps and johns, who make their money off the backs of the women they exploit.

      “Some of us Indigenous women are tired of being imposed into one category when talking about the sex trade, and yes some of us have different opinions on Bill c-36 and some us identify it as colonial and paternalistic and having roots in the Indian Act.”

      My understanding of bill c36 is that it applies to all prostituted women, and while some indigenous women may feel the government has overstepped its bounds, I don’t think the intention was to target or disrespect them.

      The fact is, prostitution doesn’t just effect the women and men directly involved. It harms all of society by encouraging men’s feelings of entitlement to women’s bodies, and enforcing a double standard. It harms intimate relationships between men and women, and it creates a class of women seen as disposable, reinforcing the idea that women are “other”, and not fully human.

  • Mark

    I have a question concerning this model. We know there are some women who willingly work in the sex industry because the money can be very good. For example Ashley Dupree who was making $2000.00 an hour. So under this model a women who willingly wants to be an escort would never be arrested under any circumstances? Is that a correct understanding of the law?

    • Meghan Murphy

      Yes, you are correct. She would not be arrested/criminalized in any way.

      • FrustratedRadFem

        The vast majority of prostituted women don’t make anywhere near this and don’t want to be there. Under these laws the ‘happy hooker’ benefits in many ways no arrests because prostituting is decriminalised but what the johns and third party profiteers are doing is illegal so she has that on her side. If her john is violent or acting up she can call the police or threaten to and he will get in trouble. If she has an ‘agent’ and they try to screw her over or hurt her she can report them. She can got to the police without consequences. If anyone is out to hurt her then they’ll have to think twice.

        Seeing as most women don’t want to be in the sex industry the exit programs (therapy, counseling, job training, childcare placements etc.) The women who leave the industry lessen the competition and drive up the prices, it works to her advantage financially. I’m not sure but she may not have to apply legally and be taxed (correct me if I’m wrong). If not she still can negotiate a better deal with any third party profiteers because if they are dishonest she has the police as leverage or can expose them and cause them trouble. She doesn’t have to worry about other women and girls being exploited and hurt. Many women who want leave (the vast majority) will leave a larger pool of potential customers so she can pick and chose her clients more easily. She can take advantage of exiting services even if she has no intention on leaving and go back. The Nordic model is very advantageous to them.

        Why would she oppose the Nordic model? Unless she’s on the side of the profiteers instead of the women who want to leave or she can’t operate without the pimps.

        • Mark

          I think it is very hard to determine how many “happy hookers” there are. These ones are not looking to get out of the business and so are unlikely to contact or be contacted by the organizations doing such surveys. From the studies I have read the street walking side of the sex trade is only 10% of it.

          • Meghan Murphy

            The ‘happy hookers’ are far more accessible and willing to speak up in public than the women working the streets on the DTES.

          • Laur

            “From the studies I have read the street walking side of the sex trade is only 10% of it. ”

            It is a myth that women who “work” outdoors are safer, happier, and less traumatized than women who “work” indoors. There are incredible amounts of violence done by men to high-class escorts. Many women end up on the street, in a massage parlour, AND in an escort service. So, it really doesn’t make sense to make this distinction.

            There is a study done on prostituted women in Canada that found both indoor and outdoor workers had the same level of PTSD.

            Author and survivor Rachel Moran, has said if she had no choice but to work in the sex trade one more time, she would choose outdoors over indoors. Though she also thinks she might kill herself if she had to prostitute herself again.

            Rebecca Mott, survivor and blogger, has written extensively about how much she hates when people say outdoor prostitution is the problem, and women should just be moved inside. What is so different about picking up men on the street versus meeting them in an apartmen?

        • stephen m

          @FrustratedRadFem: May I add your own excellent comment. The following earlier sub-thread is for @Mike to consider as well, The financial superiority of the Nordic Model for prostitutes who wish to remain in prostitution.

          Excerpt from @David’s financial analysis.
          “Short version:
          50% is normal pimp share, even enshrined in law in Germany.
          Sweden has the highest prices in Europe, 3 times the price in Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain. Double the price in UK and Ireland.
          To make minimum wage, Eur17,600 per annum, a woman must turn
          – 1600 tricks in Germany, and keep 21% of all earnings.
          – 175 tricks in Sweden, and keeps 63% of all earnings.”

          Worth reading the whole thing here:

          http://feministcurrent.com/10310/its-the-capitalist-patriarchy-stupid-academics-create-video-game-normalizing-prostitution-lets-patriarchy-johns-and-capitalism-off-the-hook/#comment-241365

          • FrustratedRadFem

            Excellent comment? wow I’m surprised anybody would like it that much. Thank you for the additional information. I’m glad I could help.

            It’s true it doesn’t make sense for the ‘Belle de Jours’ to complain about the Nordic model. If she’s in control then she’d already have contacts and so as long as the behave then she can still operate without trouble. If she’s worried about people calling the police all she has to worry about is the john’s repeated visitation and there are plenty of johns especially when other prostituted women are leaving.

            They talk tough about autonomy but if they are ’empowered’ and have lots of agency then they’ll have no problem adapting. If not isn’t the burden on them for failing? They say that sort of thing to survivors all the time shouldn’t they follow their own logic? It would only make sense for her to oppose it if she’s actually a brothel owner or pimp/trafficker.

  • A Survivor Knowx

    It’s a joy to see Bridget Perrier, Natasha Falle, and Trisha Baptie recognized for their decades of devotion and hard work on behalf of their sisters and brothers in the sex trade. Together they have created a new paradigm for abolitioni: Survivors at the center. I agree with Bridget that C36 should be called the Survivors Bill. Survivors’ testimony before Canadian parliament has forever transformed public understanding of the sex trade. Thank you Leah for this great article. Thank you Bridget, Natasha and Trisha for being my inspiration. Your courage has changed the world and inspired survivors worldwide.

  • A Survivor Knowx

    P.S. It’s important to note that Terri Jean Bedford and Valerie Scott were planning to open brothels if their lawsuit succeeded. Those who commercially sexually exploit others must never be allowed to represent or speak on behalf of the exploited.

    • EEU

      Exactly. They call themselves “sex workers” but they’re actually female pimps/traffickers.

  • Michael Max

    This bill will cause the number of prostitutes in Canada to sky-rocket. There were vast numbers of prostitutes hiding under euphemisms of “escorts” when it was illegal to be one, so what will happen now when they are (nearly) untouchable under the law? Not only will former “escorts” become bolder… it will also encourage other women, formerly hesitant to enter sex-worker industry, to take the plunge.

    • Meghan Murphy

      This makes no sense at all. Women don’t WANT to be prostitutes. Like, what, they were all just waiting for the opportunity? Also, if there are no customers, there is no “business,” as it were. This purpose of the bill is to discourage johns. This has proven to be effective.

      • FrustratedRadFem

        Except in places where they laws is in effect the numbers prostituted women go down however the countries nearby explode with trafficking. In Germany less than 5% of prostituted women joined the union even though it’s legal and they were offering benefits. What does that tell you?

        Also pro prostitution advocates think that they are self interested (whether they admit they believe them to ‘gold diggers’) if that’s the case why wouldn’t they join and to get benefits like retirement and overtime (maybe?). If they are shameless and fickle gold diggers like they claim wouldn’t they jump at the chance?

      • Robyn Taylor

        I dont know in the U.S both the customer and the prostitute are both doing something illegal,and about 20% of men in then U.S have seen prostitutes. The stat has been pretty constant since the 1980’s. The progress in the Nordic countries tend to come from prostitution,being legal on the purchase side then being made illegal. They also benefit from the fact that its easy to travel between European countries that have legal purchase. The demand could be moved some where else. I dont know what will happen with supply. I dont know if its going be as successful in Canada or the U.S where there has always been risk for the John. The reduction due to fear of prosecution for purchase may have already peaked. If more supply comes online and prices drop demand could increase. Canada could try giving longer sentences to men for buying sex,but from what we have seen with the war on drugs that might not be effective.

        The porn boom in the early internet days proved there is spare supply in the sex trade if access is increased.

        • FrustratedRadFem

          I though it was closer to 15% so that’s disappointing. Then again the industry is a multi-billion dollar one. I wonder what that money could of gone to if men were decent. They could spend it on their family or go on a nice holiday give it those in need (without the condition that they have to have sex with them).

          But I think the Nordic model laws also allow conviction if you are found out when you return. If not that can be done. In more isolated countries (island countries for instance) this can be done more easily. If the johns and pimps try things they can still be countered. The law can always be updated if need be.

          Also porn is a form of prostitution so it may also be covered by the Nordic model. This works in favour of women in the industry. Nobody is entitled to porn if you can’t jack off without read a fan fiction (I don’t care).

      • Michael Max

        We should clarify and say that YOU don’t want women to be prostitutes. For many other women it is a purely economic calculation. Where else can an unskilled worker earn 100-300$ per hour? Obviously, only in the sex industry. The question whether women want to do it is no more relevant than asking whether a janitor likes his menial job. People do it because they see it as the best opportunity to make a living.

        • Meghan Murphy

          The vast majority of prostituted women and girls do not earn “100-300$ per hour.”

          • Robyn Taylor

            100-300 is on the low end in North America and Western Europe. I processed low end prostitutes when they were caught in stings or surveillance. Even a sizable amount of street prostitutes make that. One of the reason I have hard time getting girls out of the industry its impossible to find a private sector job that pays that much per hour. I process a girl and show her everything she qualifies for in social assistance and job opportunities,but she is still going to come up short. Its hard for the state to compete with 700 bucks a week for seven hours a week tax free. I wish we could but we cant. Now immigrants and girls in third would countries make less.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Are you insane?? NONE of the women working down on Hastings make near that much. Neither do trafficked women, neither do women working in the legal brothels in Germany. High-end escorts, sure. But that is not near the bulk of women.

          • Missfit

            I worked for escort agencies and the price was 100-120$ per hour and the agency took 30-40%. That was 15 years ago, unless prices have change that much, which I doubt, I doubt that someone can seriously say that 300$/hour is common and can be found at the low end. It would be an extreme minority who makes that.

            In places where prostitution has been made legal, the booming of the industry brought more competition, also in terms of what has to be offered (everybody knows what that means), a drop in prices/wages for the prostituted and an increase in trafficking. We know who the ultimate winners are (pimps and johns).

            I always wonder how can someone listen to survivors and say ‘but what about the woman who does not want to work at McDonalds’? Legalizing prostitution brings as collateral damage more women inhumanely exploited, having their lives ruined. The Nordic Model apparently brings as collateral damage some women being discouraged to enter prostitution and instead work at regular wages like the rest of us. What is worse? Nobody has ever been traumatized by NOT working in prostitution. I know where I stand. And I’m not even going into the whole ‘women for sale’ vs feminism’s goals…

            Of course prostitution pays more than a job at McDonalds and most of the jobs a woman 18 or early twenties can get. And this is problematic because it becomes easy when the industry is normalized to lure inexperienced young women to join it. You are told you can make such and such amount of money while being told it’s nothing (what are you a prude?). Add to that that many women are groomed into believing it’s their duty to give men access to their bodies regardless of what they want.

            It’s not a job like any other and everybody knows it. It’s more a question of humanity than morality (whatever that means). We’ve been into that before. And another commenter (Laur I think) provided an excellent link to an article where the author explains how it would be impossible for the job to meet the bare minimum in terms of workers’ safety/rights.

            When I’m hearing some speaking in terms of ’empowerment’, I can only think that this refers to the feeling of thinking ‘I made it, I went through it and now i’m richer for it. I overcame my fleeing instinct and I survived. Now I know I can face anything, I feel so empowered!’ I think most women who choose to work in these kinds of jobs end up realizing at last how self-destructing the whole thing is.

            Prostitution is bad for women, any way you want to look at it.

          • Laur

            Missfit, thanks for sharing a bit about your background. I’m so glad we have you around these parts!

            Yup, what a lot of people don’t realize when they say, “escorts make 1,000 dollars an hour” or whatever, is that, although that may be how much the john pays, the woman doesn’t keep anywhere near all of it. For example, the escort agency Ashley Dupre worked for took 50% of the money johns paid her. 50% is a pretty standard cut today. Yet however much the john pays is somehow what the woman “makes”. It’s a mind-fuck.

          • David

            $300 would be very expensive in Western Europe, even for an hour with a “high end” girl.

            The ‘low end’ street price is really $30 to $40 across Europe. She could still make $700 a week, but it’s more than 20 tricks per week, and definitely far more than 7 hours a week.

            Third world countries can go right down to US$1 in Calcutta, US$2 in China, Indonesia and some parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

            European prices some guy collected:-

            Albania: $50 for one hour with escort
            Austria: $75 for quick sex at the brothel
            Belarus: $70 one hour at the brothel
            Belgium: $35-70 at the Red Light District
            Bulgaria:$25 for a gypsy street hooker
            Croatia: $80 escort in a private apartment
            Cyprus: $70-80 in the brothels at the northern side of Cyprus.
            Denmark: $150 to $200 per hour for escort/prostitute
            Estonia: $30-40 street hooker & $80-100 one hour private apartament prostitute
            Finland: $250-350 for one hour with escort or $70-100 quickie with a street hooker
            France- Cannes:Up to $40,000 a night
            Germany: $40-$65 at the Red Light Districts.
            Greece: $15 to $20 with HIV Positive Girl, $35-$50 in a brothel
            Hungary: $30-40 prostitute from the street
            Ireland: $120 on-line, $40 to $66 street price.
            Italy: Gypsy street hooker on the highway roadside $30 for quickie
            Moldova: $30 from the street
            Netherlands – Amsterdam: $45-$70 for 15 minutes
            Nigerian women in Italy:$13 per transaction
            Nigerian women in Ivory Coast:$2 per act
            Norway: $10-$50 African street girls, $155 an escort
            Poland $40 for a fuck in a brothel
            Portugal: $35 quickie with a black hooker
            Macedonia: $20 quickie with a street prostitute.
            Romania: $25-30 street prostitute
            Scotland: As low as $48
            Spain: $35 with a black street whore in Madrid
            Ukraine:$124 to $248 for foreign language speaking prostitute
            United Kingdom – Street Prostitute:$30

          • jose

            You’re full of shit with that “western europe” comment. The immense majority of prostitutes in western europe are trafficked from Africa and they earn fuck all. In fact they’re kept against their will because they’re told they OWE MONEY to their captors.

          • anonymuse

            I can open up craigslist in my town right now and find dozens if not hundreds of women who are REAL and ready to have sex for as little as $40…

            You clearly have no idea what you are talking about and are speaking from a highly, highly privileged position.

          • Robyn Taylor

            When I was referring to Western Europe and North America. I was referring to the girls that have actual citizenship. Processing girls in the U.S. I did not see to many immigrants except for in massage shop raids. You can look inside Backpage ad in the U.S. The average is about 100.00 an hour. There are street girls that may have a drug problem that charge less,but ask any police officer most U.S. prostitution is going online,because of cheap smartphones that even low end girls can afford. Online the average is about 100.00 dollars.

        • Laur

          Only someone a man, one who has never been in the sex trade, would say it’s purely an economic calculation. If that’s true,and women make 100-300 (or more) why aren’t women flocking to sell sex?

          This isn’t something most women in the sex trade will say outloud, but there is almost always another factor in addition to money that pulls them in. Such as childhood sexual abuse. Or addiction. Or one of the many factors discussed elsewhere. Women aren’t likely to admit this to anyone outside of the sex trade, though. Financial struggles is something most people can relate to, so saying “I do it for the money,” makes sense to outsiders.

          • Michael Max

            “Only someone a man, one who has never been in the sex trade, would say it’s purely an economic calculation. If that’s true,and women make 100-300 (or more) why aren’t women flocking to sell sex?”

            I said it’s an economic calculation for MANY women, not all. Obviously the majority of women find other occupations beyond prostitution, for various reasons; moral/religious, safety, ambition, etc. But there is still a very sizable contingent of women (and men) who choose the sex industry as their best option for making a living. I am not saying that that’s a good thing, but it is reality. The demand for sex in various forms is high and that’s not going to change. Sex drive is too basic from a biological perspective.

            “This isn’t something most women in the sex trade will say outloud, but there is almost always another factor in addition to money that pulls them in. Such as childhood sexual abuse. Or addiction. Or one of the many factors discussed elsewhere.”

            It may be in some cases, but it is not a rule. I think it is more of a wishful assumption that abuse or some other dysfunction HAS to be involved. I am sure there is a trend that women who become prostitutes are generally less educated and from underprivileged backgrounds, but the same can be said about people who work all sorts of menial jobs. It doesn’t mean they come from pathological families/environments.

          • Meghan Murphy

            It’s not an assumption. There are statistics that show most women/girls in prostitution come from underprivileged backgrounds, abuse, or are struggling with addiction/substance abuse.

            That women are forced to choose prostitution for “economic” reasons does not mean it is purely an economic calculation. You’re being manipulative. The point is that women aren’t getting rich off prostitution (and even if they were, that wouldn’t justify its existence). Making a choice because there is no other choice does not mean women WANT to be prostitutes — it means women need to survive and need better options.

          • Michael Max

            “There are statistics that show most women/girls in prostitution come from underprivileged backgrounds, abuse, or are struggling with addiction/substance abuse.”

            You mention three things that may contribute to women becoming prostitutes, but they should not be lumped together.

            The first one I concur with, obviously, as I mentioned that very factor myself.

            Addiction/substance abuse is also a likely cause because it generates a desperate need for fast cash. It’s important to note here though that it does not drive women to prostitution for any special reason other than the fact that it generates more money than any realistic alternative. If professional rock climbing paid as much then there would be millions of junkie rock climbers around.

            Then we come to abuse, and here is where I am not convinced. Yes, abuse and prostitution may overlap because both of those things are prevalent among the underprivileged, but there is no causal link of the form: “I was abused and therefore now I am a prostitute”. It’s more of a coincidental link such that a person wearing disheveled rags is likely to be poor.

          • Meghan Murphy

            You’re oversimplifying complex issues on purpose.

          • Michael Max

            My explanation was quite detailed. I would go on to say that it was the most in-depth take on the topic in this thread (speculative, but reasonable). I am really not asking for much here, but it would be nice to have an open conversation. I am genuinely interested why most of the women here are unwilling to have an actual debate about the nuances of female experience.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I have no idea why no one is as enlightened and informed about female oppression as you, Michael. It must be frustrating.

          • Laur

            There are 122 posts, plus the OP now. We have had a debate.

            You don’t respond to a lot of points brought up, so women, myself included repeat ourselves over and over and over.

            But clearly, you are most informed about the “nuances of female experience,” here.

          • marv

            “My explanation was quite detailed. I would go on to say that it was the most in-depth take on the topic in this thread (speculative, but reasonable)… I am genuinely interested why most of the women here are unwilling to have an actual debate about the nuances of female experience.”

            Stunning (men)dacity! Flabbergasting sexism! You have assassinated your own character. No assistance necessary.
            How could a man in a male organized society ever speak in opposition to the subjugated knowledge of women with any real integrity? It’s totally irrational and mind boggling.

            I guess when you have invested your whole life into liberal ideology it is threatening to the ego to surrender it. I can even imagine you telling indigenous people how they misunderstand colonization and it’s the white man’s burden to explain it to them.

            As far as neo-liberalism became the dogmatic worldview for interpreting prostitution in contemporary times it was a product of male monopoly, personal autonomy, private ownership, competition and profit making. It is the re-envisioning of the sex classes as self-interested individuals. The material oppression of women as a genus is rejected in favour of unique narratives (your nuances). The spin based on faulty premises rules nearly supreme except for the dear non-conformists under siege contesting the liberal intelligentsia. where you sit high on your perch. Remember the more elevated you are the further you have to fall.

          • Sabine

            Troll. You are only here to argue ’til the cows come home. You’ve done it repeatedly on other posts. Even if someone (highly unlikely but let’s suspend disbelief for a sec) were to agree with you here you would “yeah, but” them. Your presence here is tedious to say the least.

          • Laur

            You may “not be convinced,” Michael, but you are wrong. Many, many prostituted women say themselves it was sexual abuse that groomed them for prostitution. It’s your choice to not believe them, but that is what you are doing: not believing them.

            Re: drug addiction, some women do enter prostitution to support a habit, but most women in prostitution started using drugs after being in “the life,” as a way to numb the pain. Re: the first group of women, “real” jobs do not allow one to use drugs, which make them rather hard to keep for someone who is being prostituted. The self-hate of being an addict is another factor that primes this, first, smaller group, for prostitution.

            I have a feeling you don’t want to here about the self-hate that both drives women to enter and/or keeps women in prostitution, but it’s definitely a factor.

            There are women who are pimped out by their boyfriend or trafficked by strangers and then “decide” to enter prostitution by their own “choice.” Nevermind that it might be all they know and the only “job” they feel deserving of. All the people they know are in “the life.”

            Money does play a role, but there’s no amount of money that makes up for taking away one’s sense of self and PTSD at the same rate of state-torture victims.

          • Michael Max

            “That women are forced to choose prostitution for “economic” reasons does not mean it is purely an economic calculation. You’re being manipulative.”

            They are not forced. They have an economic incentive to become prostitutes, but it is a choice. Another choice for an unskilled person would be to work at a fast-food place or be a greeter at Walmart. The difference is that the sex industry provides an income 10-30 times greater than the alternatives. Apparently, even unskilled workers can do the math and it overrides any moral concerns.

            “The point is that women aren’t getting rich off prostitution (and even if they were, that wouldn’t justify its existence). Making a choice because there is no other choice does not mean women WANT to be prostitutes — it means women need to survive and need better options.”

            We are talking about people trying to earn money to make a living here. There is a different definition of “want” when it comes to finding a job than to leisure activities. A person may “want” to have a certain job that involves sitting at a desk 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. Is that person thrilled to do so? Doubtful. Nonetheless, that person will probably go to a lot of trouble to obtain that job if it will provide sufficient financial compensation, and therefore sustenance.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Here’s the thing though. You’re focusing completely on the ‘choices’ of women in prostitution in order to neutralize the industry and pretend as though it is like any other job. Feminists are primarily opposed to the sex trade because of the ‘choices’ men make — to buy sex, to abuse and exploit prostitutes. Regardless of WHY a woman ‘chooses’ prostitution, we will continue to oppose the industry because we don’t believe men are entitled to access women’s bodies and because it perpetuates and reinforces gender inequality and sexism.

          • Michael Max

            Such is the prickly nature of a free society. You have to understand, and accept, that people will make choices that are not to your liking. You cannot control that unless you want to run a police state with strict control of behavior and, perhaps, thought.

            I may think that it’s a waste of time to watch the Kim Kardashian show or read/watch 50 Shades, but I cannot (or should not) push for legislation that would impose my opinion on other people. Misguided as they may be.

            As to prostitution being different from other professions… it may be, to an extent, because it’s intimate in nature and evokes emotional responses. But the financial aspect of it holds, and that is the decisive factor. If there was no money in it, then there would be very few prostitutes.

            Prostitution doesn’t affect any woman (or man, let’s not forget) who is not a prostitute. So it does not contribute to any gender inequality, which I don’t even believe exists anymore. Men and women have the same rights and the same opportunities in virtually all developed countries in all avenues of life.

            “Regardless of WHY a woman ‘chooses’ prostitution, we will continue to oppose the industry because we don’t believe men are entitled to access women’s bodies and because it perpetuates and reinforces gender inequality and sexism. “

            With consensual prostitution you have a situation where the prostitute agrees to sell access to his/her body in exchange for money. Being entitled to something would imply that it’s simply up for grabs, and that’s not the case here. It’s an exchange of goods/services for resources. It may sound crude, but that’s the fundamental mechanism of the transaction.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “Such is the prickly nature of a free society. You have to understand, and accept, that people will make choices that are not to your liking.”

            Ok, Michael. Your time is coming to an end here. You continue to ignore what we are all saying here in order to frame prostitution as a neutral transaction, which it is not. Essentially you are trying to convince us not to be feminists anymore or to understand the larger context and implications of the sex trade.

            1) We do not live in a “free society.”
            2) People cannot simply “choose” to do whatever they like if it harms other people.

            I’m gently suggesting you move along. We don’t wish to spend anymore time in this circular, unproductive conversation with you.

            Thanks.

          • Laur

            Hi Meghan,

            Thanks for your words to Michael. I couldn’t see a way to click “reply” to your actual post. I was going to reply to Michael, but when I read he doesn’t believe gender inequality exists anymore, I changed my mind. Does he seriously believe women put a stop to gender inequality, which has been in place for millennia, in less than forty years (I am thinking from the early 1970’s to today). That would be awesome, but sadly, that’s not the case. But of course, men can just “tell” that women are equal and prostitution is an equal system.

            Other women and myself have spent significant periods of time writing replies to him. He is taking his own life experience, of work being more or less freely chosen, and putting in on prostitution. He also is under the impression prostitutes are all making the salaries of high-class escorts. In reality, most prostituted women make a lower middle class to middle-class amount of money, with some women keeping very little and some women making quite a bit.

            In terms of real jobs, the top considerations are typically salary and type of work. But prostitution, commonly nicknamed, “the life” is different. It is “a life,” not something one can just switch off after the “job” is done. The “workplace injuries” include a lifetime of PTSD at a rate as high as state torture victims. To continue in this life, one needs almost a complete disregard for her own well-being. This is why women in the sex trade typically don’t carry guns.

            I wonder if Michael would want his daughter or mother to be in the sex trade.

            Michael, like another male commenter, says the reasons men buy women are mostly, if not solely, biological. Then, why do only a minority of men buy sexual access to women? Why does sex-purchasing vary so much across countries? If men are completely unable to restrain themselves, why does sex-purchasing rise where prostitution is legalized?

            Furthermore, some people argue rape is biological. Does he think rape outside of prostitution should be legal? What about incest, another common form of sex men do to girls and boys? Why are so many men currently into anal sex? And what biological role does homosexuality have?

          • Laur

            And also, no one here has suggested legislation against 50 shades or the Kim Kardashian. Women who have experience in the sex trade are the ones most vocally for anti-“john” legislation.

          • “Ok, Michael. Your time is coming to an end here.”

            Thank you!! The endlessly repetitive echo-chamber of his solipsism is so obnoxious; it’s the intellectual equivalent of the kind of fetid flatulence that will clear a room.

          • Sabine

            Free society? FREE???? Hahahahahaha! My God, wake up man!!!

          • Mar Iguana

            “As to prostitution being different from other professions… it may be, to an extent, because it’s intimate in nature and evokes emotional responses.”

            You are suffering from terminal delusion. This has got to be one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard a john say, and that’s saying something considering how rip roaring stupid johns are. What a putz. Run along and go play with yourself someplace else.

        • FrustratedRadFem

          Actually whenever there are studies asking women in prostitution whether they like it and want to stay. Most say no, they report high levels of drug use, high levels of previous abuse (especially in childhood), high levels of abuse, rape, beatings from johns, pimps and police. It’s usually anywhere between 85-95% who want to exit but can’t (Mellisa Farley’s study is one the more notable ones).

          Do some research from sources that don’t have there heads up the asses of the sex industry profiteers here’s some links try and look into it some more:

          http://www.rapeis.org/activism/prostitution/prostitutionfacts.html
          https://www.courses.psu.edu/wmnst/wmnst001_atd1/Prostitution/facts.html

          Capitalising certain words doesn’t necessarily make your point stronger. Besides you want women to be prostituted let’s be honest here this is about what you want.

    • Laur

      Yes, the money is a lot. But, it doesn’t make up for a lifetime of PTSD, in some cases to the point one is unable to function much at all. There is normally an “after” of the sex trade. This could be death from murder or suicide. It can also mean a lifetime of PTSD. Of course, there are some women who are able to get adequate support to recover. But it’s really a lifelong process of healing.

      I think you missed the part of the OP where surivor Rachel Moran talks about how there are other kinds of force besides a gun pointed at one’s head. Money, when you desperately need it, is force. And when one is only eligible for minimum wage jobs–if that–prostitution can seem like the best option.

      I just got pissed when I read this post. I have heard about some of the worst abuse in upscale-escort services. These are patronized by wealthy, powerful, men, who think they can get away with anything. And they usually can. So, yeah, lots of money, but one is sexually tortured by someone who doesn’t care one wit about their well being.

  • Iskwew

    “If you don’t think the pro lobby exists, just talk to the exited women who speak out against the sex industry. They’re bullied and intimidated by the pro lobby every time they speak”

    I’ll answer this first. I am an exited native woman and I have talked to other exited or exploited or working women, who are as you frame it from your belief that are “against” or “for” the industry. That is your imposition, and you’re granted that belief. However, it makes it more difficult for women with sex trade experience to find out who they are, what their needs are, and how to build a safe life if everyone is more focused on terminology, labeling, and appropriating their experiences. Identity is important, especially for Indigenous women determining their own identity because our means of access to identity has been stolen or exploited systemically. We need the space to challenge these binary ways of thinking in regards to prostitution. As for Bill C-36, many groups of women try to work together and there is a disconnect. That does not mean there can be future cooperation. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong but I will say that both sides have been bullied and intimidated by each other, and yet there is a common goal on addressing colonial attitudes towards women, and freeing all women from violence. Through listening and validating each other’s experiences even if they anger or do not fit our own may relieve these conflicts of interests. Yes, I envision this more between women with either survival sex trade, trafficking, or sex work or whatever they are identifying with comfortably at the time of their journey. That would increase the respectability of this dialogue rather than sexist terms like “female pimps/traffickers.” Many of the well-meaning commentators on here do unintentionally produce hate speech towards sex trade survivors and victims, particularly who are Indigenous, or turn the issue of violence against women into releasing their own ingrained assumptions about women and prostitution in general. No one by any means has to agree with me, but I do not have to acknowledge a “pro lobby” exists when many fail to acknowledge the current state of Indigenous women in the sex trade fearing this bill, and it becoming a reality as they will now be forcibly dispossessed. This is everyone’s lobby we’re dealing with, not “pro” or “anti”.

    “My understanding of bill c36 is that it applies to all prostituted women, and while some indigenous women may feel the government has overstepped its bounds, I don’t think the intention was to target or disrespect them.”

    Bella, I agree also as I do genuinely believe that this was not the government’s intention. What I may be trying to get at here is seeking more inclusivity of Indigenous women. Rather then trying to get us to infight on this Bill, which is similar to the internalized racism we have shared through the Indian Act and our identities. But there was minimal to no acknowledgment of the government’s role in trafficking Indigenous people, or acknowledging the historical power they have had in controlling Indigenous women’s bodies either through residential schools, the sixties scoop, the criminal justice system, sexual sterilization, and the cycles go on. Yes, prostitution recreates racist and sexist attitudes of male entitlement and women as objects to be fully dehumanized and that is not acceptable. But some Indigenous communities are now having to work with less support from the government,organizations, academics, women’s groups and other stakeholders on ensuring a decrease in state violence or police stalking/ harassment, safe housing, or compulsive exiting strategies that may endanger or punish Indigenous women’s recovery.

    • cashmere mist

      “Many of the well-meaning commentators on here do unintentionally produce hate speech towards sex trade survivors and victims, particularly who are Indigenous,””

      I have never seen such behavior as this exhibited once on this blog. You really need to offer at least two or three examples of “many” before I can give this statement of yours any credence.

    • “That would increase the respectability of this dialogue rather than sexist terms like “female pimps/traffickers.””

      I’m honestly confused, Iskwew. What term should be used instead of “pimp”, if the activity that is widely known as pimping is what is being done? What is sexist about that term and the term “trafficker”? I see nothing sexist or, as you have said below, “hateful” about these words. They are non-gendered terms that describe an activity. If a woman is trafficking or if she is “agent” for a woman in prostitution, i.e. – taking a large percentage of the money without having to engage physically with the men, why is it sexist (or hateful) to state the fact that that is what she does? How do you describe it?

      You say that “some Indigenous communities are now having to work with less support from the government,organizations, academics, women’s groups and other stakeholders on ensuring a decrease in state violence or police stalking/ harassment, safe housing, or compulsive exiting strategies that may endanger or punish Indigenous women’s recovery.”

      I’m not clear if you are saying that this is a result of the tabling of C-36. If that is the case, could you explain specifically how one has resulted in the other? Do you think that having working conditions like they have in Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and elsewhere, that removing funds for support programs and leaving it all to the free market will improve conditions in these communities and in particular for indigenous women? If you do can you help me to understand how that would work? I’m having a difficult time understanding where you are coming from.

      • Iskwew

        I’m all for calling out male pimps and traffickers, absolutely. They must be called out. I’d way rather denounce them. I’m uncomfortable referring to females as “pimps” or “traffickers” if they’ve been in the survival sex industry, as many women have internalized that they’re criminals or deviant in comparison to women who have never been sexually exploited. Whereas men in relation to pimping and trafficking it all ties into their masculine identity, so it doesn’t damage them nearly as much say a woman. Yes, there are women who are agents of profiting off women but instead of a female pimp or trafficker why not just call them an exploiter? They clearly are. Obviously these women exist and need to be held accountable, but it’s largely men doing the exploiting. It makes no sense to debase prostituted women any further or else Canada will definitely not see them stop the behavior and find viable alternatives, or even have a chance of reintegrating into society that already stigmatizes them. Hope that makes a bit more sense!

        What’s difficult about this conversation is I want to explain, but there are things I really can’t. I don’t think any parts of this conversation is moralist, so it’s a shame there’s those labels going around. What I can tell you is that I was in the homeless system a very long time, and myself and others trying to access support services or resources for years was dare I say hell. I have experience in forced labor of domestic work and sexual exploitation since I was a youth. I understand that’s needed to clarify some aspects, but I’m not going to open that story further as anymore can be potentially intrusive. I, and many other native women do not identify with sex work. But there are native women I love and care about that do, and I’m not going to pretend like they don’t exist just like the government pretends non-status Indians don’t exist. Some native women and girls feel frightened by the legal system now, as the lack of recognition of some of our women in the trade feels like erasure and reminders of colonial law trauma. By lack of recognition im not referring to criminalizing the men part, I’m referring to the lack of recognition in regards to the state’s role in colonial violence. It has been the men but also police who have either arrested/criminally harrassed or turned a blind eye when we go missing or off the radar which is not our fault. There is a relief that women have been decriminalized per say, but also feel indirectly criminalized as that pressures us to restore our relationship with the RCMP’s colonial history and motives. Johns and police are both responsible for violence against women, it’s like replacing the violence with a different variation. now Sadly, some native women would rather isolate themselves then deal with police, even if they’re trying to protect them it’s that instilled with us not to trust police. This isolation can happen on reserve or off reserve. I hate to say it, but some native women may even trust johns more then police which is extremely depressing to say. We are less supported now because some indigenous girls and women are needing access to harm reduction exiting services but they won’t access them now since those services have been so demonized or stereotyped by the government(not women’s groups). Out of all women groups in Canada, native women have far less options and far less time on getting access to support. It would be safer for them to access harm reduction services that do not shame them rather then leaving it to the police to criminalize and other stakeholders giving them inappropriate resources. Non-status women have been under the same legal regime for centuries now, they have no existence and are considered landless, this is a form of law trauma. That will be the reality now for many native women, status or no status in regards to the sex trade. We want prostitution to be abolished but they will have to exit with less support and more stigma, more quickly with less networks, and with more risk of death, violence, or going missing since many will refuse to interact with police, even if they’re trying to protect them. If this sounds what Bill C-36 can address then I wouldn’t be writing. Canada is sending the message that violence against women is unacceptable and you cannot buy women. That is a step for equality, plus honoring survivors. I’m not going to reject that at all, I’m glad women are feeling this way. But we now put intense social pressure on survival sex trade women to deal alone now. We need to think about future consequences, what will happen next to our Indigenous women? If women cannot exit from prostitution given now that the men have been criminalized, then what can we do to prevent contemporary racist attitudes such as that they’re failures, not reformed enough, or not worthy of life. (Think victim blaming at its most extreme for women in poverty) Women can exit, but reintegrating is another and more difficult story and some women die in the process of trying to rebuild their life. Not everyone in Canada is ready to humanize native women or address colonialism, so for this to work we have to stand behind all these women even those who identify with sex work. This is a unified struggle. For Indigenous women if you want to be considered a real woman in this society, then better make sure that when you get out of prostitution it’s by settler’s acceptability standards, rather then on our terms.I get that it would seem with decriminalization that all hell would break loose on the free market, and I’m not for capitalist regulation which isn’t what decriminalization is. But let’s really hope that this loosely based Nordic model can address these concerns. I have faith it can, but if it doesn’t then we need to rethink. I know this doesn’t really directly address your questions but I hope it gives you at least some insight to an already complex problem. Thank you.

        • Leah

          There is certainly a lot of work that needs to be done to help Native women, and all Native people, that Bill C36 does not cover, but if you have concerns about the way Bill C36 will affect your friends, it might be a good idea to reach out to the Native Women’s Association http://www.nwac.ca/home or to the Native women who supported Bill C36 such as Bridget Perrier, Trisha Baptie, and Cherry Smiley. You can contact SexTrade101 here: http://www.sextrade101.com/contact.php and Eve (Trisha Baptie’s association) here: http://www.educating-voices.com/connect.html. You can find these groups on social media as well (Twitter, Facebook). They are more qualified to help you with the details.

        • Thank you Iskwew. You have brought up quite a lot and I’d like to respond to a couple of things.

          I understand your concern regarding inaccurately saying that exited women are pimps when they are not.Terri Jean Bedford, however, is a former brothel owner and operator who is fighting for her business. That business involves her profiting off of other women having intimate physical interactions with johns. In that regard, I think its appropriate see her as a pimp.

          “I hate to say it, but some native women may even trust johns more then police which is extremely depressing to say”

          I certainly can understand native women trusting johns over police. There are deeply problematic issues with police departments nationwide when it comes to protection and justice for women and especially native women. It’s a problem of crisis proportion. One aspect of the Nordic Model is to make changes in police behaviour and accountability regarding this. While it will make johns less likely to abuse their social power as (mostly white) men it is also meant to make police more accountable for their actions.

          “We are less supported now because some indigenous girls and women are needing access to harm reduction exiting services but they won’t access them now since those services have been so demonized or stereotyped by the government(not women’s groups).”

          My understanding is that harm reduction is not an exiting service, it’s a service to improve the conditions while maintaining the industry and johns’ access to women.
          Harm reduction and exit services are both are dependent on similar funding. Transition houses, counselling, shelters, etc are no more tied to government or police than harm reduction organizations. Under the Nordic Model, more public money is invested in those services, and some money for this (not nearly enough) is included in C-36. Decriminalization casts prostitution as a job like any other, so therefore no support services would be needed. It would mean less help, not more.

          “Non-status women have been under the same legal regime for centuries now, they have no existence and are considered landless, this is a form of law trauma. That will be the reality now for many native women, status or no status in regards to the sex trade.” Yes, this is very true and it is an abomination. But I don’t think that c-36 will make this worse, while I believe that decriminalization, with it’s central idea that free market capitalism will make things better, will certainly make this situation worse. The free market supports anything that will keep people vulnerable and traumatized, so that they are easier to exploit for profit.

          “We want prostitution to be abolished but they will have to exit with less support and more stigma, more quickly with less networks, and with more risk of death, violence, or going missing since many will refuse to interact with police, even if they’re trying to protect them.” I know that C-36 has many flaws, but I do not think that it is going to mean fewer networks, less exit support and more stigma as you say. I think it will mean more support and less stigma. Already, as Leah has linked, there are groups and I hope these groups will be able to access some of the money that comes with C-36 so that they can help more people.

          • Iskwew

            Good responses one last thing I’d like clarify about the myth of harm reduction services from your understanding. They’re exiting services but due to public society’s stigma they cannot be presented that way you can blame this on NIMBY or whatever. Maybe there not your ideal of an exiting service, but they are for many. This isn’t really something you can just research about and say what it is unless you actually go through it. There is no maintaining access to women through these services they’re places to stop the violence since police cannot do anything, legal aid, access to housing, life skills, or to protect from being outed, and so much more. It’s far more complicated then you can imagine but it does not normalize the industry it gets women out of exploitation.

          • Thanks again Iskwew. I can see that I did not exactly say what I meant in the clearest way.

            I was responding to “We want prostitution to be abolished but they will have to exit with less support and more stigma, more quickly with less networks,” to point out that under a Nordic Model program, there would not be less funding for the sorts of services that we call “harm reduction”, but more. Both “harm reduction” and “exiting” tend to draw on the same or similar financial resources and they are not in competition or an either/or relationship. I can see how some of the discussions here that take a wider view of policy and social theory and that critique the idea that abolishion is wrong and there should be a free market for the sex trade with harm reduction alone to make it all OK, could give the impression that we are against harm reduction itself. I am not against harm reduction. I am critical of some models that depend on harm reduction alone but maintain John’s and profiteers access to women.

            In my own experience working with harm reduction street workers and having ongoing friendships with people who do that work, it does not seem that harm reduction has exiting as a strategy. BUT that does not mean that I (and I would think others here) believe that harm reduction services should be removed. I believed they are a necessary part of any investment in effective abolition and exiting strategy. Herm reduction improves and saves lives. To take it away would make no sense.

            From what I understand, the future that Terri Jean Bedford, Alan Young and their coalition are lobbying for would put existing harm reduction services in jeopardy because their ideology is based on the idea that “the market will take care of it” and government funding to help people in need is wrong. Under a Nordic Model (and I will say again, that the amount of money for services under C-36 is way too low. That’s one of its weaknesses), there would be more money for harm reduction and exit services to work together for the safety of people who are surviving in prostitution.

            I know its extremely complicated and that my own knowledge is limited, but this is how I understand things at this point.

          • Africana

            Actually one of the shortcomings of the Nordic model is the reduction in harm reduction services, this is acknowledge in the 2012 report, since it is illigal to buy sex it brings another layer of stigma to support or reduce the harm on an illegal industry, I ask everyone to read the full 2012 Sweden report in prostitution, the whole report since they only published the good bits and the full report in English was released 11 months later, that should tell you something

          • I am unable to find a 2012 Sweden report.

            I found (amongst many news and opinion pieces) this,

            http://www.government.se/sb/d/13420/a/151488

            this,

            http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30c91c.html

            and this,

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6O4xzzTqSU

            at about 8:30 Häggström refers to social services for both prostituted women and for buyers as well.

            I have not been able to find any evidence that the model seeks to remove harm reduction services like needle exchange, safe injection, peer counselling, safer sex education and other street-level intervention.

            To be clear:

            You are telling me that Sweden funds shelters and transition houses but insists on removing fundamental aspects of addiction and poverty intervention? There is no rationale for this and frankly I’m not buying it.

            Can someone help me out here?

          • Africana

            It’s much complicated than that for example relief services are provided on a conditional basis, ie, desire to leave the industry, it actually makes sense since the law aims to reduce the industry, less and less harm reduction services will b needed, furthermore, this will be good if and only if the number of prostitutes is reduced, furthermore, social services are dependant on the conditions of the clients, so if a prostitute is still working after continuous dealing with the social services they might even deny further services, again in theory it makes sense since they are providing an exit path, yet the prostitute is still working..? Why would they continue to help someone who isn’t interested, this is how they see it , not my view,…do you get it sorry for my English …it’s even harder typing from a Spanish keyboard cheers I’ll try and post something

          • Laur

            Hi Africana,
            No one on this site or elsewhere has said this model, as currently implemented, is 100% ideal. Not at all. And it’s also being implemented rather differently across countries.

            What we need to do, in my opinion, is work to change the parts of the model that are not working, practically speaking. There haven’t been enough support services for people in the sex trade who need them in Sweden. This is true. This isn’t a reason to say that we should stop criminalizing and socially stigmitizing clients while also pushing for more services that women in the sex trade say they want.

            “so if a prostitute is still working after continuous dealing with the social services they might even deny further services, again in theory it makes sense since they are providing an exit path, yet the prostitute is still working..”

            I understand what you are saying. I don’t think we can base policy around what might happen “in theory,” though. I would want to see something put into the law that says whether one is still in the sex trade or not she has access to the services. I mean, really, if we’re talking about counseling or job training, or access to education…these things should be open to *all* people, whether they are or have ever been in the sex trade.

            The sense I get from your post is that you are against criminalizing clients You don’t say this outright though, so I’m going to ask you: do you support criminalizing clients? I just don’t see conjecture about social services to be a reason not to criminalize clients while working educating social service workings, lawmakers, and implementing legal change as needed.

          • I’m responding to Laur as well as Africana but trying to keep the thread from getting unreadably narrow (at least this is how it displays on my computer).

            Thanks Laur for making these points and I second all of them, including your question regarding the criminalization of johns.

            I am well aware, Africana, that the issue is extremely complicated and I was not in any way implying that my short comment on a blog encapsulated the entire range of intervention strategies being applied in various locations globally. I asked about how it’s going in Sweden. I thank you both for clarifying that to the extent that you have. I would still like to know what services exist for addicts and those in extreme poverty because I would think that the same services that prostituted women need are also needed by others who are not necessarily in prostitution. Are there no such services in Sweden? Are you saying that an addict who also engages with johns from time to time would be denied services for addiction, mental illness/distress or poverty?

            On a broader note, to try to change a global phenomenon of social and economic exploitation based on sex, one that intertwines with global capitalism to produce a most distilled expression of misogyny as well as one of the most effective vehicles for its perpetuation is quite an ambitious undertaking. Remember that the first response to most comments about prostitution is the lie that it’s “the oldest profession”, and few will contest that. We are all deeply immersed in the acceptance of that lie as received truth, so in this context, resisting the lie and applying justice to those who would coerce and use other human beings is bound to be an imperfect process.

            To reiterate what Laur said: no one said that any country’s strategy is perfect, but we do agree that excusing and protecting the men who buy women and girls should not continue. Do you agree with this?

          • Meghan Murphy

            (Sorry about the narrow threads — will work on a fix!)

        • ArgleBargle

          Iskwew, I agree with you – we need to stand behind all prostituted women, no matter how they identify their experiences. The harm is the same either way.

          However, using the terms ‘sex work’ and ‘survival sex’ to describe what is happening obscures the harm done by johns to the women, children and men they pay to rape. The former term was coined by the sex industry to legitimize it’s activities, and the latter by academics and social services in a inaccurate and misguided attempt to describe and destigmatize the children and women harmed by johns. Inaccurate, because the reason people end up being accessible to johns is almost always much more complex than simple ‘survival’. Misguided, because the victim is blamed and shamed just as much if you say they engage in survival sex as if you say they engage in prostitution. In both cases, the actor is the prostituted person, the victim. The john who is paying to rape women, children and men, is made invisible.

          Being raped by strangers is not survival and it is not work. It is a slow (sometimes fast) mental and physical death.

          Let’s name and shame the real problem – men who pay to rape people – and, as you point out, focus our advocacy on obtaining real survival tools – social assistance, job training, trauma therapy, for those harmed by these pricks.

  • Mark

    I, like everyone else on this board, is against any woman or girls being forced into prostitution. However when I was I college I meet several women who were in the sex industry to pay for college. They had made the cost benefit analysis and willingly decided to work in the industry because of the money to be made. So what I get from this bill is that a women could advertise on the web and see customers I her home or a hotel and would never be bothered by the police? For instance the police could not wiretape her phone line, then bug her home, then break in when she is negotiating the price, right? I live I the US so the laws are different here then in Canada.

    What I’m saying is that under this law a women who willingly works as a prostitute and does not want out of it would not be arrested or forced to stop, right?

    • FrustratedRadFem

      Yeah, no arrests for the prostituting individual the buyers and third party sellers are subject to arrest and consequences. Services are provided for prostituted women including exiting strategies. This of course mean the buyers need to be on their toes if they answer adds or they could just not solicit in the first place. Same goes for the third party sellers.

      Women fought long and hard for the right to an education and still have less opportunity, yet the wage gap still exists and discrimination. I fail to see how prostitution to get through college a win for women. It’s still coercive, discriminatory and misogynist. Then men who get involved with the sex industry hate women and it shows. How is putting women in hands of woman haters and abusers a good idea?

      It’s as if you need to pay a debt for just being female. Not only do men get to have access to you, you will have to cover the costs including healthcare and other items related to it. On top off that you’ll still get paid more than your male counterparts when you get a degree (assuming there is a job available). Is it worth it though if you end up on the internet your career opportunities are lessened or gone completely. This is what happened to Belle Knox she was abused by the men on set and admitting they were psychologically abusive “finding out what makes her tic”. She was outed by a porn consumer and was harassed out of college. I think the college may have also expelled her I can’t remember. Not surprisingly men who watch porn or even ‘star’ in it don’t get kicked out of college, they often refuse to kick out proven rapists. She then had nowhere to go but the sex industry and the are taking her for a ride.

      So not only is she in huge debt she has no credentials. The paying you way through college plan is far too risky to actually work and if it does is it still worth it?. The physical toll of the body is devastating stds, vaginal, oral and anal damage that may need surgery, there are all sorts of injuries the john can inflict. How is she supposed to explain that? People *will* ask questions if you have unexplained injuries or you miss too much school because it interferes with your courses. You can be infected with all kinds of stds (condoms can break, be removed by the john during intercourse, or not be put on correctly) that cause complications or can’t be cured. If you don’t have access to affordable healthcare you are screwed and in America it may cost as much as your fees. If you happen to fall pregnant well…..

      Also, they’d have to be secretive about it, why would they tell you?

      • Laur

        “Also, they’d have to be secretive about it, why would they tell you? ”

        As someone who graduated from college in the not-so-distant past, I can tell you that working in the sex trade is seen as “cool.” Particularly stripping. I know one woman on campus who would tell large groups of people that she was an erotic dancer. And announcing that does bring one a certain amount of attention and interest.

        The fact that our culture has successfully made “sex-work” a mainstream term and that prostitution is shown as something glamorous is itself a type of force. Particularly for women who are young, don’t yet know their place in the world, and haven’t figured out who they are.

        • FrustratedRadFem

          No offence but that is such a loser thing to do. Trying too hard to make the boys like you. The men who watch porn, go to strip clubs or use prostituted women are losers. What possible benefit is there to suck up to them? Apart from cool cred from the gross men what do they gain by bragging about it.

          Are they that clueless that it’s promoted to them by old white men and frat boy types. Like how pink coke cans and branded t-shirts are. Why would you allow gross men define what’s cool. They aren’t rebelling against anything but their parent and it’s time you grow out of that.

    • “What I’m saying is that under this law a women who willingly works as a prostitute and does not want out of it would not be arrested or forced to stop, right?”

      You asked that question above and had it answered. Why do you keep asking?

      If you take the time to read other blog posts and the ensuing discussions, most of your queries will be answered without you asking other people to take the time to write out information at is fully accessible to you.

  • Iskwew

    Sadly, I have come across these toxic viral environments quite often on here, even though I love the feminist writing, content, and journalism. But on this specific article alone, there is one commentator on here telling people they’re “full of shit” when sharing a view. I have no problem in people setting out to debunk what they think is not true, but it creates a silencing and let’s gang up on another women’s perspective. But I also found this comment appalling, and driven more towards out of hate rather then critique:

    “Exactly. They call themselves “sex workers” but they’re actually female pimps/traffickers. ”

    Defining, or shall I say accusing women of being “pimps” and “traffickers” is a very serious and hateful claim, and if we’re going to make assumptions about women then perhaps I can make the assumption that this commentator lacks any real empathy for any sex trade victim, survivor, or marginalized women for that matter, who are subject to these classist and abstract debates that detracts from the reality of being in prostitution, and getting out of it. Think for a second when feminists are called names or silenced over and over and over, while fighting for women’s equality. That is no different then referring to another female as a “pimp” or “trafficker” it’s hurtful towards that specific group of women. It puts them in a position of being outed or harassed if they decide to speak for themselves, and can suffer real social, legal, economical, and political consequences. Show some respect for all the women is all I’m trying to say. It’s not that hard to grasp. I’ve witnessed both abolition and sex work groups help our communities on MMIW. Make this a productive space, not a belittling space.

    • FrustratedRadFem

      He pulls statistics out of nowhere and has callous attitudes towards the majority of women who want out. He takes a tough shit attitude to the women trapped in the industry and tries to minimise the amount of underage ‘sex workers’. Am I supposed to be completely sweet?. He tried to minimise the harms but we are they hateful ones, ok then. I critiqued his positions and asked questions on his views. He just replied with accusations of ‘totalitarianism’ but doesn’t seem to understand the term.

      “Think for a second when feminists are called names or silenced over and over and over”

      You just did though you called this forum ‘toxic’ and ‘hateful’. That’s a dismissal not and argument. Also we we’re repeatedly called ‘moralists’ in this comment section by the the same guy who I said was ‘full of shit’. Are you going to address robyn or admonish us some more? He also stated that abuses happen in every industry so the abuse in prostitution is no admissible. Does his passive aggression gets a pass? Also why no mention of Hector-abortion-is-murder-but-prostitution-should-be-legal? He is higher up on the comments if you want check.

      I made my points without being abusive and no saying someone is ‘full of shit’ on the internet is not abusive, rude maybe, but not abusive. If saying someone’s full of shit in an informal forum is ‘toxic’, I don’t think you’ve been on the internet much. If you haven’t noticed men talk tough and a lot harsher in debates all the time but somehow that doesn’t take away from their points.

      “Defining, or shall I say accusing women of being “pimps” and “traffickers” is a very serious and hateful claim”

      Except she was talking about women who are in fact traffickers and pimps. They aren’t just throwing the term around. If a woman is trafficking or pimping other people then the description is fitting. If they are doing these criminals acts then shouldn’t the be prosecuted accordingly. Do you have an issue with that? Your definition of ‘hateful’ is a bit off. Trafficking women and girls and profiting from their abuse is hateful.

      The term ‘sex worker’ is an academic one and originally came from the pimps themselves. Someone can call themselves that if they work in the sex industry even if they own an adult shop. It’s a broad term on purpose.

      • Michael Max

        Robyn, whom I would think is a ‘she’ rather than a ‘he’ name these days (doesn’t really matter except for your curious spin), is quoting police records, so it’s not exactly stats pulled out of nowhere. Quite the opposite in fact. You have been caught in a string of ad-hominem attacks that wouldn’t do justice to a most righteous cause. The best thing to do would be to acknowledge error and move on. Even the harshest debaters on the internet respect that it’s the argument you should attack, and not the person.

        • Laur

          I see no evidence that this poster is a woman, other than the chosen name of the poster.

          • FrustratedRadFem

            It is kind of obvious, most women don’t go to those lengths to defend prostitution even if they think it is ok. Even if robyn is a woman our points still stand. Robyn has misogynist attitudes even if female that isn’t ok. Robyn should unlearn that regardless of their sex and you should too.

            Ad hominen? you do know robyn was throwing around the word ‘totalitarian’ and ‘moralist’ as if they don’t have real meanings? How come you don’t acknowledge that.

            MM let’s be honest here you are being a concern troll and this discussion doesn’t concern you.

            MM you were proven wrong in other comments sections multiple times. Where is your admission of defeat? Robyn also denied the fact that the average age is underage this is widely know and easy to look up. Still he didn’t care.

            Where is the citation and are they ‘facts’ valid how many girls were found in prostitution stings were not found out to be underage (which messes with the data). How many weren’t arrested because if found to be underage but weren’t processed because the protocol states you can’t or the police officers don’t want to deal with the paperwork. If you don’t think that kind of thing happens all the time research the Rotterham child rape scandal. Those guys were treat underage girls as property to be passed around. That went on for about 15 years and the police knew. The police fail underage girls and abused prostituted women constantly.

          • Michael Max

            “It is kind of obvious, most women don’t go to those lengths to defend prostitution even if they think it is ok. Even if robyn is a woman our points still stand. Robyn has misogynist attitudes even if female that isn’t ok. Robyn should unlearn that regardless of their sex and you should too.”

            Her arguments are far more credible and grounded in reality than anything else I’ve seen in this topic.

            “Ad hominen? you do know robyn was throwing around the word ‘totalitarian’ and ‘moralist’ as if they don’t have real meanings? How come you don’t acknowledge that.”

            Like I already said – there is a difference between attacking a position somebody takes, and attacking a person. She did it the right way while you took the hostile approach, all too common around here, which is inexcusable in a civilized debate.

            “MM let’s be honest here you are being a concern troll and this discussion doesn’t concern you.”

            Look, this is an attitude that I’ve faced here in a previous discussion, and which is very bizarre to say the least. If I choose to comment on something then it obviously does concern me – you don’t get to make that choice for me. This is a public forum so as long as the moderator lets my comments through (and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be) then I can exercise my freedom of speech. I generally don’t post anything if I fully agree with an author’s position because what would be the point of that? A discussion emerges precisely when there is a difference of opinion.

            “MM you were proven wrong in other comments sections multiple times. Where is your admission of defeat? Robyn also denied the fact that the average age is underage this is widely know and easy to look up. Still he didn’t care.”

            Not a single argument was brought up around on this forum where my position would be shown to be wrong. I was shouted down, name-called, routinely slandered, and probably a few other amusing things. But proven wrong through rational debate? No.

            “Where is the citation and are they ‘facts’ valid how many girls were found in prostitution stings were not found out to be underage (which messes with the data). How many weren’t arrested because if found to be underage but weren’t processed because the protocol states you can’t or the police officers don’t want to deal with the paperwork. If you don’t think that kind of thing happens all the time research the Rotterham child rape scandal. Those guys were treat underage girls as property to be passed around. That went on for about 15 years and the police knew. The police fail underage girls and abused prostituted women constantly.”

            Police records are as good as it gets with this type of data because there is a legal trail. Opinion surveys and the like are not reliable enough, especially when people have an incentive to lie. The media is desperate to discover a huge underground world of sex-trafficking as that would make a tremendous story. The only problem is that, other than some isolated cases, it doesn’t exist. There is a lot of prostitution of course, but it’s done by choice. Especially in the internet age where a prostitute can setup a website and meet clients discretely at hotels, obviating the need for “pimps”.

          • FrustratedRadFem

            Why are you assuming robyn is female now? I thought you were against assumptions. Do you know robyn in real life?

            Again you refuse to acknowledge hostility from robyn (you know deying the harm on women and the amount of girls in prostitution)and ‘totalitarian’ and ‘sex moralists’

            Do these arguments count as ad hominen

            “Im not oppose to the law, (yet robyn is arguing why?)but to act like this is not sex moralism is disingenuous.”

            “it all comes down to your feelings about sex” or this one robyn just personalised it.

            Commenting on something that doesn’t concern you. You can get involved with anything on the internet doesn’t automatically make it legitimate.

            “Police records are as good as it gets with this type of data because there is a legal trail.”

            Except it can be incorrect or biased and contextless. It only cover the prostitutes who were caught and processed. If they aren’t caught or the officer doesn’t want they hassle they can let them off or process them as something else. Police documentation can be skewed. Also if the see she’s prostituted and doesn’t want to be there, she might not tell the police but if she does they don’t write that down for reference she’s just another prostitute to them. There are plenty of academic studies and organisations who have better data on prostitution. Also where do you think so many missing women end up.

            “Especially in the internet age where a prostitute can setup a website and meet clients discretely at hotels, obviating the need for “pimps”.”

            Pimps are pimps there is no quoatation marks needed. You do realise traffickers/pimps have internet access too. How else do the promote the ‘service’. Also women doing sexwork online are still taken advantage of and can be find ‘bad dates’ (gross euphemism) also pimps are looking out for women online so they can offer their ‘protection’.

          • Michael Max

            “Why are you assuming robyn is female now? I thought you were against assumptions. Do you know robyn in real life?”

            The question is: why did you assume Robyn was male? I am well aware of the meme that every girl on the internet is a dysfunctional basement dweller. And it could be true in this case as well.

            The arguments brought up by Robyn are good regardless of gender though.

            “Again you refuse to acknowledge hostility from robyn (you know deying the harm on women and the amount of girls in prostitution)and ‘totalitarian’ and ‘sex moralists’”

            She disagrees with arguments, and does not try to character-assassinate. And please tell me: how dirty is the word “totalitarian”? Or what does “sex moralist” mean”? I have personal theories, but I would like to hear alternative opinions.

            “Do these arguments count as ad hominem?”

            No, they don’t. They criticize an opinion rather than attack a person. It may seem like a fine distinction, but it is a very important one.

            “Commenting on something that doesn’t concern you. You can get involved with anything on the internet doesn’t automatically make it legitimate.”

            By your own logic, it doesn’t make YOU legitimate either. I will leave it at that for now, but if you want me to elaborate, I can.

            “Except it can be incorrect or biased and contextless. It only cover the prostitutes who were caught and processed. If they aren’t caught or the officer doesn’t want they hassle they can let them off or process them as something else. Police documentation can be skewed”

            True, but it does NOT mean that these women were forced into prostitution. It just means that they didn’t want legal responsibility if they could avoid it (understandable). This is why police records are the most credible. They put people in a tough position of being held accountable for their words/actions. It is not an easy thing to go through, but the common good demands it.

            “Pimps are pimps there is no quoatation marks needed. You do realise traffickers/pimps have internet access too. How else do the promote the ‘service’.”

            That’s just the thing; they are not necessary in the process of promoting prostitution so they have been cut out of the cycle, which is a good thing for the prostitutes.

            “Also women doing sexwork online are still taken advantage of and can be find ‘bad dates’ (gross euphemism) also pimps are looking out for women online so they can offer their ‘protection’.”

            You are exaggerating. Female sex-workers have the same rights as their male counterparts though I can easily believe that women garner far more attention. Please keep in mind though, that we are talking about a situation where rights of different genders will need to be carefully weighed.

          • Laur

            “I will leave it at that for now, but if you want me to elaborate, I can.”

            You have not been asked to elaborate. The blog owner, has, however, asked you to leave.

            You do know many women who post on this site have been in the sex trade, right? You could actually learn something,instead of believing what you want about the sex trade.

          • bella_cose

            I’m pretty sure he’s a john. He pops up on any blog post about prostitution to defend men’s right to buy women. Of course, he couches it terms of women’s choices, because he’s so concerned about women being forced to give up “sex work”.

  • Mark

    Have to agree with the poster about being a stripper is seen as cool. I have known several women over the course of my life who were strippers and made really good money from it and it is seen as cool by many people.
    I find it interesting that you talk about the wage gap and yet women make much more money in the sex industry than men do. There is a strip club near where I live that my wife and I were driving by one day and my wife said why aren’t there any strip clubs full of men for women. Hadn’t really thought about that but the answer is fairly obvious. If a women wants to see a man naked all she has to do is ask. The same applies to sex. A saying I heard years ago “women need a reason to have sex, men just need a place.” Now wether this is due to nature or nurture or a combination of both is a matter of much controversy. I think it is highly biological with some influence from culture. If you look at gay males they are highly promiscuous, there have been many stings at a local park where they go to have sex. This happens across the U.S. in parks, beaches and other public areas. I have never read or heard of any activity like this done by lesbians.
    My point being that there is a high demand for sex by men and a limited supply by women. This is why we have prostitution and the sex industry. I am sure more straight men would be in prostitution if they could make money but a women is not going to pay for something she can get for free.

    • bella_cose

      Men don’t pay for sex because they can’t get laid. Men pay for sex because it’s a a show of power and dominance, not matter what men say. Lots of women have casual sex with many partners nowadays. I’m not sure what generation you’re from, but things have changed a lot in the last 20 years, and with less stigma, and slightly more economic opportunity, more women are sexually active outside of relationships. Women don’t buy men for sex because they don’t feel entitled to dehumanize men while using their bodies to orgasm.

      Gay men are not equivalent to heterosexual women, just because they might be penetrated by men. They’re still men. Also, I do know lesbians who have casual sex. Again, most lesbians, being socialized as women, don’t feel the need to prove themselves by fucking women. Fucking women is a huge part of how men create their masculine identity.

      You sound like you think it’s still 1955, not 2015.

      • mark

        Maybe some do it for that reason, but I would bet a lot do it just for the sex. When I was in the military many years ago I knew a lot of Soldiers who went to prostitutes and they were not thinking “I can’t wait to have power and dominance over this women” they were thinking I want to get laid. I knew several that went to prostitutes after a night of going to clubs and not hooking up with a woman.
        The reason I brought up the gay men angle is that I think it is constructive to look at what the sexes do when not constrained by the other sex. I think the research is quite clear that testosterone is what fuels the sex drive in men and women. Men, on average, have 10 to 100 more testosterone than women. http://www.webmd.com/sex/features/sex-drive-how-do-men-women-compare
        I started researching the whole cruising scene of homosexual men when a guy I worked with got arrested on his lunch break performing oral sex on a guy at a local park. From my research this is a very common practice among gay men. I have read of nothing comparable to this in the lesbian community.
        My hypothesis is that straight men would also participate in this activity, except for the fact that straight women have no desire to go blow strangers at a park. The majority of women want some sort of connection with a man before they do anything sexual with them. Men, not so much.
        Because of this inequality in sex drives and mating behavior between heterosexual men and women there are opportunities for both abuses and profits. I agree that trafficking and being physically forced to do anything against your will is wrong. However, I see nothing wrong with two consenting adults exchanging money for sex.

        • bella_cose

          Why are you commenting here when you so obviously have no understanding of the subject at hand? What are you getting out of this? You have an incredibly simplistic analysis of a system that is much more than the stereotype that men want sex and women want connection. You are unable to to move past a superficial understanding, and that’s because as a man, you’ve never had to see things from the perspective of women. You don’t get it, and it’s pretty clear you aren’t going to, whether it’s deliberate or you’re simply incapable of thinking on a larger, more complex scale.

          Quit it with the evo psych bull. It’s a lazy argument, and far below the level of discourse found on this blog.

        • FrustratedRadFem

          Except yes they were thinking that if you actually examine their attitudes towards women you will come to some uncomfortable conclusions. Buying access to a woman’s body so he can have his way is an act of dominance and male entitlement. Let’s be honest they weren’t likely speaking of them in respectful term. If they do anything they don’t like they aren’t going to negotiate with her in a fair manner. Johns oftem ask for no condoms, refuse to wear them or slip them off during (which is a form of assault). He’s just going threaten her or dispose of her onto the next one. They are johns not gentlemen. Just because they are your friends doesn’t make them good people.

          Using military men as an example wasn’t a wise choice. Their entire culture is not woman friendly. If you listen to men talking about prostitution, it’s pretty obvious they see the women they seek out to be lesser. Do you have any idea how these men treat women behind closed doors? If you aren’t prostituted you might have a chance of justice if he abuses you if you are prostituted your chances are close to 0.

          Soldiers rape and batter women often regardless of which side they are on. In fact it’s a weapon of war. Wartime prostitution is just sex slavery. In the peace time women don’t have much of a choice but you have even less choice when the government organises for you to be sent to wherever the soldiers are. Prostituted women and girls are also used as a peace offering by the losing side, yet somehow their ‘sacrifice’ is not appreciated and they are left destitute and ostracised. Research the ‘comfort women’ of Japan’s regime and the French women used during WW2. They argued because France was more ‘sexually liberated’ the women there were perfectly suited to be used as ‘entertainment’ for the soldiers. Research the history of rape and conquer in war then get back to me.

          Here’s an example of military men’s attitudes but there’s plenty more:
          http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-29/racism2c-sexism-rife-on-adf-facebook-group/3860736

          PS just because men want doesn’t mean they should get. Biologically speaking a huge portion of the male population isn’t actually supposed to breed. If you try to use evolutionary psychology arguments (which real scientists don’t agree with) then you’ll have to accept that mother nature didn’t intend every single creature to breed. Tough luck not every male get the ‘breeding rights’.

          • bella_cose

            Exactly. The military is a hypermasculine culture where men are trained that any quality associated with femaleness is contemptuous, and should be targeted and destroyed.

    • Mark, at this point you’re trolling. You haven’t read the answers to your own questions, and you don’t seem to have read anything else. You just keep coming back with the “Well, gee whiz, men want sex” bullshit.

      As any het woman can tell you, guys don’t want nearly as much sex as they say they do. When it’s not a matter of getting gold stars on their man cards, their interest in sex drops way down.

      Because all the crap — prostitution, porn, sexual assault — they’re all about power and dominance. You obviously don’t realize how easy that is to see from the receiving end.

      And the only way to keep the whole horrible system going is to never call it by its right name. Keep pretending it’s about sex. Or love even (see 50shadesOfShit).

      The only thing I don’t understand is why anyone, you for instance, wants to be part of that.

    • Laur

      “I find it interesting that you talk about the wage gap and yet women make much more money in the sex industry than men do.”

      I’ve read this sentence a few times, and I’m still not sure what point you’re trying to make. The sex trade and modeling are the *only* two places where you will find women earning more than men. And their places where what is being sold is either visual or sexual access to a women’s body. It really tells you what men value when these are the only two positions where you find women earning more than men.

      Some strippers do make a lot of money. I know others who would make more money if they waitressed. Every ex-stripper I have ever talked with tells me how much she hated stripping. Every ex-stripper has also discussed how ALL the women at the strip club(s) she worked at hated stripping. One woman worked as a stripper for four years, and said during this time, she only met two women who said they liked stripping. Men are often shocked and confused when they find out women exployed as strippers loathe them so much. (And it is the men they loathe, not merely the set-up of strip clubs).

      I have also heard that strip club owners try to make sure college students have a more positive experience, so they can tell their educated friends how great stripping is. I can’t verify that this is true, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
      “Hadn’t really thought about that but the answer is fairly obvious. If a women wants to see a man naked all she has to do is ask. The same applies to sex. A saying I heard years ago “women need a reason to have sex, men just need a place.” Now wether this is due to nature or nurture or a combination of both is a matter of much controversy. I think it is highly biological with some influence from culture.”

      The thing is, the vast majority of “clients” of women in the sex trade are married. So, they already are having sex. It’s a certain type of sex they want, something their wife will not tolerate, or that they think should not be done to “good” women.

      We have seen that, with changes in the culture, more women are accepting porn, some even watching it on their own. Similarly, if penalties are high enough (say a month in jail and/or being a registered sex offender), “john-ing” is likely to decrease. Most men do *not* buy sex, thankfully. If it was biological, you’d think it would be something *all* men were doing. We do have control of the cultural element, so we need to make it so the perceived “benefits” of paid sex are outweighed by the punishment.

      • FrustratedRadFem

        I don’t think more women are accepting of porn it’s just that women are socially obliged to accept it. Whenever I see advice column there are plenty of women uncomfortable with porn but the advice columnist
        usually tells her to get over it. It really is like those old housewife manuals of old. The whole culture around sex is coercive to women. Be a good woman and let you husband watch video featuring women most likely being raped and always being abused and exploited. If she doesn’t then she’ll be shamed and told to accept it or get into it. Which is ironic because porn supporters claim to be against shame and telling people what to do.

        Most women don’t watch porn and because of that most women don’t really know what the content is. When women say they support porn, I don’t think they actually know what they are supporting. Many seem to think it’s women in lingerie having ‘sensual’ sex, it’s not. When they see what their boyfriend and husbands are watching they are disgusting and don’t feel safe. But if they voice this then they are gas-lighted.

        • Your whole comment is brilliant, but this jumped out:

          “Whenever I see advice column there are plenty of women uncomfortable with porn but the advice columnist
          usually tells her to get over it. It really is like those old housewife manuals of old. ”

          …tucked away in the “use when arguing with liberals” file.

          Thanks!

          • FrustratedRadFem

            You’re welcome. The parallels do align men have always enlisted hand picked women to be their spokeswoman. It is about getting women to keep other women in line. Do more research on it there will be plenty of information from those home economics text book and old magazines and things like that. The porn acceptance movement (sex positivity) is similar to ‘lie down and think of England’. ‘Advice’ columnists and many marriage therapists have a lot answer for.

  • pisaquari

    Aw, the T boosters have arrived.

    (ew)

    “Consenting adults” have sex for sex’s sake. Nothing else.

    Too black and white!! Noo! Human complexity! Nuance! Ah, rules!! <is skeerd??

    F*ck your own brethren.

  • bella_cose

    I am now of the opinion, that men should not be allowed to speak in favor of prostitution until they’ve spent a month being orally and anally penetrated by strange men for money, without any other way to pay their bills. Then perhaps they could manage a little empathy for prostituted women.

    • Meghan Murphy

      YES.

    • Mark

      That makes no sense because it is not the equal to women, at least for straight men. The equivalent for straight men would be to be paid for having sex with women. Which a lot of men wouldn’t have a problem with.

      • bella_cose

        No. Being penetratedwould be exactly the same as what happens to women. The point being that repeated penetration is physically painful, and harmful, and that men are totally fine with that as long as it’s not happening to them. Hence the comment about it possibly creating a little empathy for what prostituted women go through, which is something you’ve shown you’re not capable of.

      • Laur

        Mark,

        No, the original comment would be the correct comparison. You (meaning johns in general) want to imagine that for women, prostitution is this enjoyable activity, much the way men find having sex with women. If this were true, why do so many women who have been prostituted call the sex trade, “paid rape”?

        Heterosexual activities outside of prostitution are not the same for men and women. We are not social equals and women disproportionately suffer from sexual abuse from men. In the case of prostitution, this is someone who is 1) male 2) has more money than you 3) may be from a more privileged racial or ethnic group who is paying for do-what-I-say sex. These are not men the women have chosen to have sex with; many of them are physically unattractive, if not downright repulsive. And then prostituted women have to pretend they like it and are totally into it!!! It’s this last part, that women are always into it, or at least this group of women, prostituted women, are so into it, that’s the male fantasy.

  • Blue

    Wonderful article. I am absolutely in support of this bill as I follow what happens from the U.S. I agree that it is not possible to separate trafficking from “sex work”and that tolerating (or worse, championing)the practice of purchasing women and girls to use for sex contributes to violence against women and rape culture. However I am also concerned with the repercussions the new law will have for the people who depend on this type of work.

    There are so many conflicting reports when it comes to the real measure success of the Nordic Model in other countries that have implemented it.

    GUTS magazine which positions itself as a feminist publication that is for sex-worker’s rights and against this bill has the following thing to say:

    “the Nordic Model has been largely unsuccessful abroad—since its 1999 inauguration in Sweden, assault rates against sex workers have increased, heavy competition has led to a decline in earnings, and there is little compelling evidence that the number of sex workers has decreased.*

    […] the legislation has not reduced the demand for prostitution or deterred clients. Instead, it has had “serious adverse effects” on sex workers, including an increased social stigma expressed by the public, healthcare providers, and social services.”

    Any thoughts on this? Could someone point me to some reliable research or statistics that prove otherwise?

    Thank you!

    • bella_cose

      I’m not sure if this is what you’re looking for, but there is some good info here:

      http://prostitutionresearch.com/topic/swedish-law-on-prostitution/

      • Blue

        Thanks that’s super helpful!

    • The article you quote – http://gutsmagazine.ca/issue-two/bedford-whats-next-canadas-sex-industry – offers no citation for it’s claims about an increase of violence in Sweden. It also links the dangerous conditions that prostitutes face with “stigma” (that magic unquantifiable trash-can for critique) alone, never johns and pimps who are the ground zero of it. She labels any acknowledgement of endemic violence with the rather ironic term “paternalistic feminism”.

      There’s good stuff at the link bella_cose has provided.

      Also this comment from another thread on this blog provides some economic breakdown.

      http://feministcurrent.com/10310/its-the-capitalist-patriarchy-stupid-academics-create-video-game-normalizing-prostitution-lets-patriarchy-johns-and-capitalism-off-the-hook/

      David – January 23rd, 2015 at 11:01

      amnone

      I think you are right about pricing.

      Short version:
      50% is normal pimp share, even enshrined in law in Germany.
      Sweden has the highest prices in Europe, 3 times the price in Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain. Double the price in UK and Ireland.
      To make minimum wage, Eur17,600 per annum, a woman must turn
      – 1600 tricks in Germany, and keep 21% of all earnings.
      – 175 tricks in Sweden, and keeps 63% of all earnings.

      The usual cut for a pimp, or legal manager, worldwide ranges from 30% to 70%. Pimping is a business, ‘staff’ must be kept motivated. It is bad business practice to demotivate the front-line ‘service providers’ by taking all her money. 50% seems to be the standard brothel share, I’ve been told by women in Asian gogo bars that their bar-fines are split 50/50. Escort agencies usually charge 30 or 40%.

      In Germany, a pimp can legally take 49% of earnings, 50% and over has been defined as “exploitation” by the courts. 50% seems to be what legal systems consider fair, and I would guess that most pimps/prostitutes would strike a similar bargain, its a nice round figure, easy for everyone to understand.

      Prices reflect many factors, but it is a basic business principle that risk must be rewarded. Where sellers run legal risks, they demand compensation. When buyers run legal risks they demand discretion to minimise the risk, which must be paid for. All legal restrictions drive up the price, but only if they pose real risks, that is, if there is sufficient enforcement and penalties.

      The form the industry will take depends on buyer, not seller, preferences, and is shaped by law. Where sex can be legally bought in normal environments (nicely decorated brothels/sauna clubs, night-clubs, karaoke bars, prostie-bars), these will become the dominant form. Buyers will prefer these to the perceived seediness of the street, or the hassle of hiring an escort whose picture does not match her face. Having the opportunity to see the woman and talk to her for a few minutes allows him to reinforce his belief that he is causing no harm and continue to feel good about himself.

      The legal system in Germany permits brothel based prostitution on an industrial scale. A common form of prostitution is seen in FKKs (maked sauna clubs). Men pay an entrance fee (Eur70 or so) and can sit around drinking and eating in their dressing gowns. The menu and prices of sex services is fixed by management, supposedly by agreement with ‘workers’, but in reality prices are dictated by the market and the FKK must be price competitive. Standard price for full service is Eur50.

      Women pay a similar daily entrance fee, pay for the use of a room/laundry and pay Euro25 tax per day. In total she pays Eur170 per day. She commonly must be naked at all times since management are allowed to set working rules. In order to make minimum wage, Eur17,600, over 365 days she must turn 1,600 tricks. The brothel will make Eur53,000 and the government collect Eur9,000 in tax. She keeps 22% of all earnings.

      By comparison, a woman in Liberia, Nigeria, Kenya, Philippines, or any other poor country, would have to turn 800 to 1000 tricks a year to make the average wage. Assuming she is not pimped, she keeps 100%.

      The dominant form of prostitution is Sweden is internet escorting (in-call). The standard rate for 30 minutes (the most common sale) is SEK1500 (Eur160). Assuming internet advertising is charged at Eur250 per month and she pays rent of Eur1000 per month, she must turn 175 tricks to earn minimum wage, Eur17,000. The website makes $3,000 per year. Tax of approx Eur4,500 might be liable, but she can avoid paying (staying underground).
      She keeps 63% of all earnings.

      Sweden’s law does not drive women onto the street, it drives them into high price, low volume, indoor settings where they dictate their own working conditions (hardness of mattress, weight of man on top and colour of wallpaper), choose who to serve and who to reject and work their own hours. Additionally the law tries to ensure they are free of exploitation, and policies are put in place to help those who need it. In contrast, German brothels should have a sign outside that reads “Arbeit Macht Frei”, just as the concentration camps did.

    • Marion

      Hi Blue, here’s a link to the largest and most comprehensive study ever done in Canada on the topic. I think The study has been going on for the past 3 years or so and the data is just being analyzed now (they’re posting it online as it’s ready to publish). Some of the findings have been surprising:
      http://www.understandingsexwork.com

      They also have an article on there that looks at the implications of this new law (Bill C-36) given the new research that’s emerging (something no-one has been able to do before on this scale, so it’s important for us to consider it carefully – I haven’t had a chance to read it yet).

      We must stop human trafficking and exploitation (of all kinds). Sexual exploitation of children and youth are particularly horrific violations of dignity that we have a responsibility to prevent, interrupt, and ensure healing from the trauma when it happens.

      We’re lucky in Canada to have strong Anti-Human-Trafficking Laws, Child Protection Laws, Sexual Assault Laws, and Labour Laws. Together these are powerful tools, unfortunately they have been rarely or inconsistently applied when sex workers report violent crime (allowing serial killers and serial violent offenders to prey on them knowing that police have tended not to listen in the past – hopefully this is changing). Everyone in Canada should have access to the same justice system.

      As several people have said on this board, if we ever hope to ensure safety and wellness we need to listen to as many people as possible with lived experience in the sex trade in Canada (even those we don’t agree with). For new legislation to address the needs of everyone affected, beyond the laws already in place, as many experiential perspectives as possible need to be gathered. As I read this emerging research, I can see many more voices across the country who still need to be heard.

      • bella_cose

        Yeah, I call bullshit on this entire study and it’s preliminary findings. The fact that the first name on the list of researchers is Chris Atchison, pretty much says it all. He has a personal stake in this, as he fought very hard to keep his right to buy prostituted women. He’s probably been crying himself to sleep every night since the bill passed.

        What’s your stake in this, Marion? Interesting that you’re pushing this study so hard, when there are better, more comprehensive ones out there.

        • Marion

          Wow. I apologize if I’ve said something that offended you bella_cose. As far as I can tell we have essentially the same “stake” in this: safety, dignity, wellness, and equal access to justice for folks with current or past sex trade experience. Please let me know if I’m wrong.

          For the past 3 years I was the Executive Director for PEERS Victoria, a grass roots, peer-to-peer charity providing a drop-in centre and street outreach for sex workers. PEERS was started by folks with experience as sexually exploited youth and/or as consenting adult sex workers for people with current or past experience in the sex trade. The staff is predominantly experiential and half the board of directors are experiential.

          The primary mandate is to provide the safety and wellness supports people ask for as best as possible given limited resources (and reduced funding despite the BC government’s own inquiry into Murdered and Missing Women which recommended 24-hour funding for all sex worker serving agencies in BC like PEERS).

          PEERS unconditionally serves about 500 people per year in the Greater Victoria area.

          In light of the Supreme Court ruling and Bill C-36, we held a lot of focus groups over the past couple years to hear what the people we serve have to say about their own experiences and what will support safety, wellness, dignity, and access to justice for them. All of PEERS services are informed by this same kind of consultative focus group process.

          PEERS was not consulted by the federal government at any point in the process of drafting the bill, and our client group was not included in any of the discussion (the on-line survey was inaccessible to most). Our only opportunity to participate and represent even a fraction of the 500 community members we serve came when 2 board members were permitted to speak before the Parliamentary hearings.

          I agree with you that human trafficking and child sexual exploitation are horrors that must be stopped. I also agree that people who’ve survived those horrors must be supported as fully as possible in healing and recovery – and that those doing this work are gifts in the community.

          And, I’m seriously worried when I see that the safety concerns and constitutional rights concerns voiced by the folks served by PEERS were not considered and have not yet been addressed under C-36. If the bill is intended to increase safety, their concerns need to be taken into account.

          Do the experiences and needs of 500+ current and past sex workers in Victoria not count? Does their safety not matter too?

          It happens that Dr. Cecilia Benoit, who is the lead researcher on the study I posted, did listen to what people at PEERS had to say (in a pilot study before the big national study got under way). So far she’s one of very few people with the courtesy to listen and take those experiences and needs seriously, whether folks have experience on the street or in an escort agency. She was very respectful and considerate in both her data collection and her portrayal of the findings for that smaller pilot project.

          I have no reason to think her larger study is “Bullshit” as you say. I have yet to read what’s been coming in, but my experience with her has been that she has lots of integrity and is very respectful and is very careful about any conclusions she might make (she avoids unsupported conclusions and is clear when some result might only be coincidentally related because there isn’t enough support). She, and any of her team surveying sex workers, will have checked back with them to ensure accuracy before it’s published.

          As far as I know, Dr. Benoit’s multi-year study is the first national study of it’s size and scope in Canada (covering 5 or 6 different urban centres). I believe it’s comprised of about 7 research projects on different aspects of health, safety, resilience, and experiences of violence for current sex workers. If you’re aware of a more comprehensive Canadian study, I’d be very interested to read it.

          I think Chris Atchison’s part of the project involved surveying the people who buy sex regarding their reasons (among other questions) – which seems like rare and useful information to gather, though it’s not actually information I’m interested in. I have no idea about his private life, but it sound like you know him?

          I’m interested in making sure the unheard voices of people with sex work experience are heard. I know 500+ people who have not been heard and whose concerns have note been considered in our new law. Many of the folks served by PEERS struggle with homelessness, mental health issues, food security, domestic violence, and addictions.

          Many are afraid to go to police because they, or someone they know, have been exploited and abused by a police officer (making the new law problematic and dangerous for that unconsidered reason alone).

          I don’t care if those unheard voices are gathered by a government consultation, or by the research of Cecelia Benoit, or by someone else (as long as the process is genuine and respectful), but it is a crime if they are kept silent and then are targeted by violence that could have been prevented if we had bothered to listen. It’s a worse crime if gaps in the new law go unidentified unnecessarily and end up increasing vulnerability and risk.

          I just want someone to listen to the people served by PEERS and take their concerns seriously, especially when they say something poses new dangers.

          Besides that Blue asked for research, so I simply shared the most current and largest project I was aware of.

          • Sabine

            https://sim345.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/sex-work-the-dignity-of-men/

            If I hear the term “sex worker” one more time I am going to scream. Please read the article featured in the “What’s Current” section from March 2nd if you want to know why….

          • Marion

            Hi Sabine, I know “Sex Worker” is a term that bothers lots of people. I use it because the folks who came through the doors at PEERS looking for support told me they prefer it.

            I was told the terms “prostitute” and “prostitution” were experienced by them as derogatory of them as people and they prefer “Sex Worker” because it’s descriptive of their work rather than their character. Among the clients at PEERS, there are LOTS of different opinions on lots of topics related to the sex trade, including Bill C-36. But folks were unanimous on their preference of the term “Sex Worker.”

            I defer to folks with this lived experience to establish their preferred language for describing things about their lives, it’s not for me to say whether I like the term or not.

          • ArgleBargle

            Why not simply ‘person’. Citizen. Human Being. Woman. Girl. Boy. Man. Canadian. My name.

            Or person who has survived men seeking to use cash to coerce her into unwanted sex.

            But no, it is not ‘sex work’.

            http://rebeccamott.net/2013/10/02/it-is-not-sex-work/

          • Hi Marion,

            The PEERS page says “Our organization helps identify systematic barriers that our clients encounter and works to individualize services so people can realize their immediate and long-term goals (e.g., stable housing, substance-use management, and job skills training).”

            Would you mind telling me what the systemic barriers are that you have identified (and to what)? I am also interested to know what job skills training is offered by PEERS.

            Thanks a lot.

          • Marion

            Hi Lizor, that’s a huge question but I’ll try to be concise.

            Systematic barriers that we’ve identified at PEERS and work hard to address include:

            1. A gross lack of affordable housing (meaning that there are either no available apartments or only apartments that are way outside the budget of someone living on minimum wage). This is systemic in that there is no national housing strategy in Canada and we have a widely acknowledged housing crisis across the country. There are municipal efforts in Victoria and other cities to address the issue, but without strong provincial and federal support this will continue to be a major problem. Some of the folks PEERS serves trade sex for housing that is both unstable and unsafe because it’s the only housing they can find. We need to ensure affordable housing in Canada.

            2. Insufficient transitional housing and shelter spaces for women fleeing domestic violence is a major systemic issue that faces some of the folks PEERS serves

            3. Lack of food security is a systemic issue because it’s linked to minimum wage, which is so low that a person would need 2 full time minimum wage jobs in Victoria just to cover food and shelter. Since there are not enough jobs, or a person might be struggling with unaddressed mental health &/or addictions issues which make it difficult to get or keep a job, available resources get used up by housing costs and folks need to find other ways to earn money. If you don’t have stable housing (or it’s stable but unsafe), then it’s also difficult to hold down a job. Since 2008 food banks across Canada have seen a drastic increase in clients, including a huge increase in single parent families using their services. For the first time in our history food banks (a temporary post-WWII measure) have been made permanent. If a woman has children, and not enough food, the children are usually fed first and Mom often goes hungry.

            4. PEERS did a survey of street outreach clients in 2011 and something like 95% said they would accept a detox bed and addiction treatment immediately if it was available. It’s not. That’s a government funding issue and it’s systemically underfunded. The folks we serve bear the burden of the government’s systemic lack of commitment to address the scope of addictions issues in our communities.

            5. PEERS ran a successful, low barrier, employment training program for almost 20 years. Funding from the federal government was cut back annually until it disappeared several years ago and provincial funding was cut back progressively until it to was cut in 2013. This government funding provided core stability to the agency and it’s loss meant the loss of staff necessary to keep the doors of the drop-in centre open. This is the effect of larger systemic decision-making that negatively impacts the people PEERS serves.

            When the training program closed in August 2013, only 4 out of 30 participants were successfully transferred to other programs in town. The rest either didn’t qualify due to addictions and other challenges or wouldn’t go because they didn’t trust that they would be treated with any kind of courtesy and respect somewhere else (because long experience tells them they will be treated rudely or even exploited if they are outed as working in the sex trade past or present). Our program was considered the lowest barrier employment training program in town, and it served as a gateway to many other important social services (including police, transition house, Bridges for Women, housing, etc)

            6. Canada has one of the highest child and youth poverty rates in the industrialized world. We have received a failing grade from the UN on this issue for years. Youth homelessness in Canada is off the charts. This is a systemic issue which will require all levels of government collaborating to address it. It’s a critical systemic issue for this conversation because it exponentially increases the vulnerability of youth to sexual exploitation and other kinds of exploitation.

            7. Lack of access to health care is a significant systemic problem. Some sex workers I met while working at PEERS told me they would never go to a drop-in clinic or to the emergency room because they are treated with such rudeness and antagonism (or worse, are sexually exploited by unethical doctors – there are lots of ethical doctors out there, but it only takes one or two unethical doctors in a city, and none of them will be trusted by the sex workers there any more). Our medical clinic was the only health care they trusted. We had a volunteer doctor working with us every Wednesday for 7 years. She spent the last 3 years lobbying for funding for a paid doctor at the clinic. When she decided to change careers we were unable to attract another volunteer doctor and would have lost that service all together if the street nurses and public health nurses hadn’t stepped in to provide a reduced health care service.

            7. Lack of access to justice is one of the biggest systemic problems, especially when someone PEERS serves is assaulted. Most don’t trust police (or lawyers or judges or politicians) because they, or someone they know, have had a police officer or other legal official assault them physically and/or sexually. There are many, many excellent officers on our police forces, however it only takes one or two violent officers in each region and sex workers will be reluctant to report assault for fear of being assaulted or mistreated by the officer (how could they know which officers can be trusted and which are the violent ones?). Even if an officer is not physically or sexually violent, often they treat sex workers with disgust and dismissal which is traumatic all by itself if you’ve gathered up the courage to report an assault.

            This is one of the worst systemic issues as evidenced by people like Pickton who hunted human beings in Vancouver for 10 years by taking advantage of this systemically maintained fear of reporting. Tragically, many women DID report to police over that time and their reports were disregarded.

            PEERS tries to address this systemic barrier by partnering with local police so a sex worker has a trusted peer supporter (one of our outreach workers) present when reporting to police. This increases the likelihood of reporting and of a report being taken seriously. It has been a huge benefit to the folks we serve and the wider community. During the 3 years I worked for PEERS several violent offenders (including a couple serial offenders) were caught and jailed because of this support and trust-building. in 2013 PEERS received a provincial award from the ministry of justice for crime prevention and community safety (ironically at the very same time the majority of our government funding was lost).

            One of the biggest concerns the folks we serve mentioned regarding Bill C-36 had to do with this last systemic barrier. They said the bill increased their fear of going to police because they are now less sure of when they themselves might be targeted under the new law (and, since there’s room for interpretation in applying the law, they are more at risk of being randomly charged by officers who treat sex workers with disgust or by officers who are the people breaking the law). Anything that increases fear among sex workers and decreases their likelihood of going to police is dangerous. Tragically, this very serious concern (among others they articulated) has yet to be even acknowledged, never mind addressed by the government.

            Sorry to write such a long essay. I hope this is the information you were looking for. There are many other systemic barriers, but this will give you an idea of the big ones. It’s important to note that addressing these systemic barriers is critical to ending many forms of exploitation (including sexual exploitation) and reducing exposure to violence in Canada.

          • Marion

            Racism is an overarching systemic barrier (30% of the folks served by PEERS are aboriginal).

          • ArgleBargle

            Marion, in this list of systemic barriers to safety, health and stability, where does the intrinsic emotional and physical harm caused by johns using money to coerce people into unwanted ‘sex’ fall?

            A quick google search will quickly find several good studies showing the strongly significant association between persistent PTSD and the experience of being prostituted. PTSD, in it’s acute phase, is quite debilitating and very likely to negatively impact efforts to remain employed, drug free and in stable housing.

            Would it not be bedrock to your goals to strongly support laws criminalizing men who seek to coerce vulnerable people into unwanted ‘sex’?

          • Laur

            Hi Marion,

            “One of the biggest concerns the folks we serve mentioned regarding Bill C-36 had to do with this last systemic barrier. They said the bill increased their fear of going to police because they are now less sure of when they themselves might be targeted under the new law (and, since there’s room for interpretation in applying the law, they are more at risk of being randomly charged by officers who treat sex workers with disgust or by officers who are the people breaking the law). Anything that increases fear among sex workers and decreases their likelihood of going to police is dangerous. Tragically, this very serious concern (among others they articulated) has yet to be even acknowledged, never mind addressed by the government.”

            It is very unfortunate that the bill criminalizes prostituted people at all. A model where women in the sex trade are criminalized is not a model that feminist abolitionists want. I know many women and organizations were petitioning the government to change this before it went into law. It still desperately needs to changed. I think we can agree on that.

            Feminist abolitionists were also disappointed by the amount of money allotted for exit programs.I would think we can both agree that money for exit and support programs needs to be much more than it is currently.

            Then we get to the criminalization of johns and pimps. YOu have not said this outright in your posts on FC, but PEERS is very much in favor of johns and pimps being decriminalized. Your site is quite clear on this. I do not understand the problem with criminalizing buyers. It puts the control back in the hands of the women. Say, a woman is seeing three clients. Two of them she is okay with seeing them, but one of them has become increasingly abusive. She can call the police on this man and get him arrested. She would not need to prove he raped her, which is hard enough for non-prostituted women to prove to a court of law.

            On that note, there is a one minute video on your site where Chris A. compares johns to students he teaches; some of them he might not like and find irritating, same with prostituted women. I am appalled that this is the one minute PEERS chose to display on their site! Do you not realize how offensive it is to *students* to be compared to paid-rapists? Although the work you describe above sounds wonderful, your stance on clients causes myself and many survivors concern.

          • Thanks Marion.

            FTR, I was not intending to ask a “huge question” when I asked about the published policies of your organization and I did not mean that I wanted you to explain issues like lack of affordable housing, food security, transition shelters or addiction services and the problem of feminized [and therefore child] poverty. I was just looking to understand which systemic factors that enable the sex trade PEERS identifies.

            I recognize you have written answers below re: problems with the criminal justice system however, I still do not see how C-36 exacerbates a the misogyny that exists there. Rape victims do not get respect or justice from cops or the courts either, but that is not a result of rape being an offence under the criminal code.

        • Laur

          Hey bella_cose,
          I am with you. As you probably know, Meghan did another post on him: http://prostitutionresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Notalljohns-Meghan-Murphy.pdf He’s essentially a sex-buyer advocate. Why, he knows the sex trade even better than the women in it, who virtually all loathe men. (Gee, I wonder why that would be?).

          I have real problems with people who only see the sex trade as hurting people who are underage and those who have been trafficked (meaning had a gun pointed at their head 24/7). If adult women don’t yet have the right to be free from sexploitation, how can children? Furthermore, if you took all the people who started in the sex trade when they were underage and/or were abused as children, it would be instantly depopulated. And why do people think children and women are trafficked into prostitution? It’s because of the demand. As for the idea that the only real force is physical, survivor Rachel Moran debunks this in the OP.

          I really think the bottom line here is that many people don’t want “johns’ to be criminalized.

        • To my mind Atchison and his explicitly problematic “study” is a major indicator of the regressive attitudes that are the foundation of much of this debate.

          I was thinking that only a century ago it was acceptable for a man to beat his female spouse – acceptable if the beatings were “necessary discipline” (the good guy end of the spectrum) and sometimes less acceptable (the less-good guy who takes his aggression out on his wife at times when she does not necessarily “deserve” a beating). The latter was certainly enabled by the former. The foundation for all of it was the acceptance that the woman was the man’s property, something akin to slave/indentured servant/productive livestock and must be managed accordingly. To have surveyed men who abused their wives to determine how many were on the “bad” end of the spectrum would be laughable and yet this is the stuff and substance of Atchison’s work. To further survey women who were in abusive relationships in order to determine the extent and nature of the abuse would similarly be problematic.

          Ellesar has written on the Cam Girlz thread: “Women who make money from the industry WILL defend it. This is something we cannot get away from. They are paid to smile and act like it is all great. I have done prostitution, so I know how much most of the women hate it and hate the men, but this is not something that can go beyond private conversations. […] The physical and emotional toll can be high, but usually the financial pressures override any concerns for the risks.” but her report is supposedly tainted because she is no longer working in the industry – it is only current sex workers whose testimony we are supposed to listen to.

          This narrow range of “acceptable” sources for obtaining an overview of the industry and what happens to women in it makes any sense unless you hold the core belief that heterosexual interactions are, in their essence, commodity exchange and that enduring the physical and psychological wear and tear that the use and abuse of one’s body by someone more powerful is an acceptable countermeasure to systemic poverty and power imbalance.

  • ArgleBargle

    Marion, if you and PEERs are truly interested in the safety and wellness of women and children who have been raped by men with money, then you would support laws designed to criminalize these rapist johns. Legalizing or decriminalizing johns sends a message to Canadian society that it is OK to pay to rape people. And (I can hardly believe I have to say this) – it is not. What is needed is loud, enthusiastic and urgent calls in support of criminalizing johns, pimps and third parties who advertise to johns. A united voice would spur politicians to urge the police to take these ‘johns’ off the street, put them in jail, and jail them again if they persist once released. Women, children and men are killed inside brothels, outside on the street, in cars, in john’s residences, in parks, in hotels, in their own homes. Locations don’t murder women, johns do.

  • Marion

    Hi ArgleBargle,

    Rape is never ok. Assault is never ok. Both need to be reported to police and justice needs to be served.

    Under Bill C36, fear of reporting to police has already increased among sex workers. Violent offenders are opportunists who will take advantage of that fear and increased reluctance to report assaults to police.

    Worse, when an officer is an assailant, the new law means he has greater motivation to intimidate and prevent reporting (which can now mean trumped up charges against the sex worker if they choose to). If C-36 is not in play, our laws regarding sexual assault and assault make it possible to do the trust-building and liaising necessary to support increased reporting of violent offenders (see my recent post/ essay to lizor).

    • ArgleBargle

      Marion, not following you. Why would prostituted people have a greater fear of reporting rape or assault now that Bill C 36 is law?

      • Marion

        Hi Argle Bargle,

        It was common knowledge among the folks served by PEERS, based on their own experiences, that police officers are among their customers and among their assailants. It was talked about in a very matter of fact way, and regularly joked about in a macabre kind of way. It seemed to be common knowledge among our entire service group. Folks who had been sexually exploited youth said this was common knowledge to them back when they were teens in other major Canadian cities, and that they too had been targeted in this way (they also told stories about officers that were very compassionate and helped them out).

        When I was at PEERS I was very circumspect about discussing this issue in the community because the agency depends on Ministry of Justice funding and the good relationships we’ve developed with the 4 excellent officers on the VicPD “Special Victims Unit.” It’s a relationship that took many years to build (and much effort on both sides), the folks we serve are slow to accept that even these officers are trustworthy, and this fragile trust extends to very few other officers on the force if any.

        Police officers as a group tend to get angry and defensive (or are simply disbelieving) when I have raised the issue while providing orientation sessions with police unit musters and when I met with all the chiefs of police on Vancouver Island. They seem to either find it absurd or take personal offence at even the suggestion that there are a few unethical officers in their midst (I would hazard within every medium-large city municipal police force at least) – making it a dangerously ignored and completely unaddressed situation.

        Coincidentally, my other job for the past 4 years has been administering the sexual misconduct policy for Anglican Churches across Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands (abuse prevention education, complaint response, investigations, and disciplinary panels). Based on my experience and familiarity with the field of sexual misconduct, I can safely say that in any group of people who hold community power and authority, there are always a few who are inclined to abuse unless there is ongoing prevention education, accountability to supervisors and the wider community, and strong policy in place.

        I would hazard that the few leaked reports within the RCMP and other policing bodies regarding male officers harassing and assaulting female members of their own police forces is just the tip of the iceberg. If unethical officers are assaulting their own colleagues and getting away with it, what do you think those same few unethical officers are getting away with on the street?

        Like I said earlier, I believe that the vast majority of our police officers are upstanding and ethical, but it only takes one or two on each force to cause widespread harm and deter reporting from marginalized groups, particularly people who face the stigma associated with sex work.

        I heard stories about unethical officers in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Winnipeg who had abused their position of power and authority in order to sexually exploit both adult sex workers and youth. Sometimes this exploitation is required as a condition for a reduced fine or instead of pressing a charge. Sometimes officers insist on it with some regularity in exchange for extra “protection” on the street (whatever that means). Sometimes they’re a paying client who then commits violence after the agreed upon transaction. And sometimes it’s just a straightforward assault. Sometimes they’re in uniform when it happens, and sometimes they’re not. I’m now convinced that this is a serious and widespread problem in our police forces across the country.

        This reality (and fear of) of abusive police behaviour is wrapped up in the general rudeness, disgust, and dismissiveness that many sex workers and sexually exploited people (adults and youth) report experiencing at the hands of some police.

        The longstanding combination of stigma and fear of exploitation that sex workers experience in relation to police has meant that it has been difficult, historically, for them to report assault in the first place, never mind assault committed by an officer. If police won’t listen to or believe multiple sex workers reporting the already criminal assault of a scum bag like Pickton for TEN years, do you think they’ll believe sex workers trying to report on a fellow officer? It’s just not going to happen without an earthquake of a culture shift within our police forces and several years of ongoing sensitivity training regarding the complex challenges sex workers live with.

        Fear of police and fear of reporting to police was already well entrenched among sex workers, sexually exploited youth, and sexually exploited adults.

        Bill C-36 criminalizes the purchaser of sex (and some circumstances related to communication and work locations), it’s also confusing to many sex workers. Police, who are supposed to interpret and implement this new law are among those who purchase sex and among those who violently assault sex workers. This gives them increased power in relation to sex workers and, for those few who are unethical, increased motivation to intimidate and silence sex workers. An unethical officer can threaten a sex worker with charges that didn’t exist before. Predators in positions of power are experts at leveraging confusion, vulnerability, and fear to their advantage. This exacerbates the problem of police abuse that already existed.

        When there is an officer on the local force who is assaulting sex workers, who are they to report to? Who will believe them when police departments won’t even acknowledge or effectively address the harassment and assault going on towards their own female policing colleagues? Which officers do you expect a sex worker, or sexually exploited youth, or a sexually exploited adult, to trust? AND, with program funding increasingly tied to exiting services, where are people to go who can’t or don’t want to exit? There is no liaison and no access to justice for them.

        All I know is that the people served at PEERS are genuinely afraid, and have good reasons to be afraid, of what will happen as C-36 rolls out. Police abuse is one of several very serious concerns I heard articulated by current and former sex workers, and by people who have survived sexual exploitation (as youth and as adults). They say that life has become exponentially more dangerous for them and that the limited access to the justice system they had previously has been significantly reduced.

        I completely respect and agree with the intention to increase safety and wellness and to decrease violence. I’ve worked towards these goals my whole life. I also believe in listening to the voices of people most affected by stigma, alienation, and violence – any new law must be informed by their actual experience and their needs ( especially, if these are complex and diverse). Otherwise, by only addressing a narrow bandwidth of the issues, we unintentionally increase both vulnerability and exposure to violence and abuses of power.

        I’m seriously worried that this problem of police abuse, among other major structural and implementation concerns, is being exacerbated by the new law. The law won’t serve it’s protective intent if the folks it intends to protect are experiencing violence or cruelty or dismissal from the very people responsible for implementing it.

        • I’m confused as to how decriminalizing johns will make any change to the problems you identify. Cops are johns and like non-cop johns, a number of them are abusive. You wrote “in any group of people who hold community power and authority, there are always a few who are inclined to abuse” In reality is is MEN in power who tend to abuse and men in general hold power. This power is cemented in part through the sex industry.

          Part of the abolishionist model is to retrain police. It is clearly possible as you yourself have demonstrated when reference “the 4 excellent officers on the VicPD “Special Victims Unit.””, so why do you think that ceasing any attempt to retrain police, (which would be rendered unnecessary under decriminalization of Johns and pimps) and denies the dangers and trauma associated with being prostituted?

          • Ug. My last sentence should read “so why do you think that ceasing any attempt to retrain police, which would be rendered unnecessary under decriminalization of Johns and pimps and which also denies the dangers and trauma associated with being prostituted is going to change the pattern of institutionalized violence by cops/johns towards your clients?

        • ArgleBargle

          Marion, agreed, prostituted people do belong to a historically oppressed and stigmatized group, whose lived experience may lead them to mistrust the police and hesitate to report assaults by police. Rogue police officers may file false charges against those from this group (and any other) that they sexually assault in order to intimidate them into not reporting.

          Does it follow from the above that we should address this by abolishing laws intended to protect this vulnerable group from being harmed by men who attempt to use money to coerce them into unwanted “sex”? No, it does not.

          Why not address the fear of reporting by working to ensure that it is clear to people who have been prostituted that the legal liason and trauma related supports available to all victims of rape and domestic assault is theirs to access, whether they ultimately decide to report or not. Funding made available under the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act could be directed toward training and facility and related needs.

          Everyone who has been assaulted, no matter under what circumstance or by whom, should have the same expectation of equal access to justice as any other.

        • marv

          Marion, there are two ways of seeing and knowing prostitution being articulated here which predetermine the solutions to violence towards women. If prostitution is a fundamental indication of sex class warfare against women then from the abolitionist viewpoint it can never be sex work. If you hold a reformist ideology rather than a sex class perspective (it appears you do) then sex can be legitimate labour. These two premises are incompatible and lead to contrasting legal outcomes.

          Many slaves defended and still defend slavery out of fear and necessity but it didn’t stop most countries from making it illegal to have slaves (though it remains a common practice). I believe you wouldn’t call for slave owning to be legalized. (I am avoiding the conversation that all employees are publicly sanctioned salary slaves to capitalists or the state).

          If you truly believe that no one should impose their beliefs on prostituted women then men shouldn’t be allowed to objectify women in law or apart from it.

          • Marion

            Marv,

            I do, in fact, recognize and actively fight against the sex/classism and misogynistic culture in Canada.

            I stand against sexual violence and against slut shaming and I value the voices of the full range of folks involved in the sex trade (those who’ve experienced trafficking, those who’ve experienced exploitation, AND those who’ve experienced choice and autonomy – all of whom may also experience violence and all of whom have experiential wisdom integral to crafting laws that will respond to their needs and ensure actual safety).

            My understanding of Feminism is that we listen to each other and honour each others voices and choices (as long as they do not harm or exploit someone else) and work together to create a social environment as free from misogyny as possible (which also means resisting being patronizing when one comes from a place of greater privilege and power than others).

            While I don’t like the argument I’m about to share any more than I like your slavery argument, I think it’s a pertinent counter.

            I’ve had sex workers challenge me by pointing to my choice to get married and, as they’ve said, enter a legal contract to exchange/ share sex and other physical, mental, emotional, and social resources with one man. Luckily for me, I enjoy a mutually respectful partnership with the person I chose to marry. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 Canadian women are targeted by violence once they enter into that particular contract. Luckily for me, I entered into my marriage from a position of privilege, with access to education and well-paying work in my community – I was able to choose my partner free from economic pressure. Many Canadian women still enter into marriage, and common law living arrangements, with far less choice and significant economic pressure as part of that decision.

            Some of the sex workers I spoke with saw the latter type of situation as very similar to sex work, only without the autonomy and self-determination. I have heard them say that one can’t call sex work slavery without also calling marriage slavery (I know some feminists do call marriage a form of slavery).

            This is an argument I have heard made, though it’s not my argument, I don’t like it very much, it makes me uncomfortable and I appreciate it because it gives me pause and stretches my understanding. I offer it only because I think people calling marriage sex work is similar to people calling sex work slavery. Obviously there is some modicum of accuracy, in some circumstances, to both arguments. Beyond that they both largely miss the mark once you sit down and listen to people about their realities.

            Slavery, of course, must be ended. Our laws against human trafficking alongside our Labour laws and Child Welfare laws can be readily and effectively applied for that purpose in Canada.

            That leaves consenting adult sex workers who work either independently or in small peer-based collaboratives, who 1. choose sex work for economic reasons as well as 2. those who chose it because they see it as meaningful work (whether you or I can imagine that reality is not at issue – the fact that there are people who do experience that reality is at issue). This latter, much debated group, actually exists. They are often also well educated and (you may be surprised to learn) share a feminist bent. I’ve met many. To be honest, I doubted them at first as you do, and have since had way too many meaningful conversations with thoughtful, reflective, well-informed sex workers to remain ignorant of their reality or continue imposing my own uninformed ideas on them.

            I refuse to patronize other women or deny them their autonomy just because they do something with it that I would not.

            Both these groups of sex workers have voices that are very relevant to the discussion of prostitution laws in Canada and it is patronizing and misogynist to dismiss them – and they were summarily dismissed from the “consultations” as C-36 was being developed. They have a right to be safe and for their needs to inform any new prostitution law.

            As a feminist, I find it outrageous that any feminist would argue against including the voices of women (particularly the voices of the most vulnerable women in that group) in a law that will predominantly affect them and that may have stripped them of constitutional rights.

            We must protect the safety of every citizen and we must stop gender-based violence. But surely we can find a way to do that without compromising the constitutional rights of women – legislating constitutional violations into law seems a very dangerous precedent to set (especially when its a group predominantly comprised of women who are being selectively denied their rights).

            It seems like a very bad compromise to me, and it’s a huge concern, along with serious safety concerns, for the 500+ people served by PEERS Victoria (where I worked for 3 years).

            For those who think a made-in-Canada “Nordic Model” is ideal, I challenge you to follow through on that (now that we have something along those lines) and advocate just as hard for the rest of the Nordic model within which their prostitution laws are nested. That includes guaranteed housing, food security, a guaranteed income for every citizen, universal child care, extended maternity leave, readily accessible addictions treatment, and free post-secondary education.

            Sex work and sexual exploitation are not only driven by the demand for sex, they’re also driven by economic need. The minimal resources being allocated in relation to C-36 are barely a drop in the bucket towards addressing the scope of this need in Canada (and they will not be accessible to women who will not or cannot “exit”).

            We have a national housing crisis, a food security crisis, and one of the highest child & youth poverty rates in the industrialized world. It is highly problematic to implement only one fraction of the Nordic model out of the larger social service context that’s provided in Nordic countries.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “I’ve had sex workers challenge me by pointing to my choice to get married and, as they’ve said, enter a legal contract to exchange/ share sex and other physical, mental, emotional, and social resources with one man. Luckily for me, I enjoy a mutually respectful partnership with the person I chose to marry. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 Canadian women are targeted by violence once they enter into that particular contract. Luckily for me, I entered into my marriage from a position of privilege, with access to education and well-paying work in my community – I was able to choose my partner free from economic pressure. Many Canadian women still enter into marriage, and common law living arrangements, with far less choice and significant economic pressure as part of that decision.

            Some of the sex workers I spoke with saw the latter type of situation as very similar to sex work, only without the autonomy and self-determination. I have heard them say that one can’t call sex work slavery without also calling marriage slavery (I know some feminists do call marriage a form of slavery).

            This is an argument I have heard made, though it’s not my argument, I don’t like it very much, it makes me uncomfortable and I appreciate it because it gives me pause and stretches my understanding. I offer it only because I think people calling marriage sex work is similar to people calling sex work slavery. Obviously there is some modicum of accuracy, in some circumstances, to both arguments. Beyond that they both largely miss the mark once you sit down and listen to people about their realities.”

            Well, yes. Many feminists see marriage as yet another patriarchal institution — one that has long endangered many, many women. I — and many other feminists — wouldn’t see it as such a stretch to look at marriage as part of the “sex work” spectrum for a number of reasons, not least of which being that many men learn/believe they are ‘owed’ sex in marriage, as a part of the ‘contract’.

            Radical feminists, for the most part, aren’t huge advocates of heterosexual marriage… Speaking for myself, the argument you bring up here doesn’t bother me one bit, particularly because I am not in support of the institution of marriage and have spoken out against it many times.

            I agree that listening to all voices is important, but listening to voices is not where our analysis/fight ends. If we aim to put an eventual end to male supremacy, we must challenge patriarchal institutions and industries, regardless of whether or not there are women who like/’choose’ those institutions or industries. I’m not going to pretend, for example, that marriage isn’t a fundamentally patriarchal institution simply because many women continue to choose to get married. It doesn’t mean I think those women are bad or stupid or that they aren’t feminist, it means I do not support the institution. I question women who choose marriage, but understand they’ve been socialized into accepting marriage as a granted in our culture and also understand that many women around the world have no choice but to marry (and to stay in abusive marriages).

          • bella_cose

            “For those who think a made-in-Canada “Nordic Model” is ideal, I challenge you to follow through on that (now that we have something along those lines) and advocate just as hard for the rest of the Nordic model within which their prostitution laws are nested.  That includes guaranteed housing, food security, a guaranteed income for every citizen, universal child care, extended maternity leave, readily accessible addictions treatment, and free post-secondary education.”

            This right here tells me you are not at all familiar with feminist abolitionist arguments. What do you think we’re all fighting for? We aren’t trying to take away prostituted women’s means for survival. We’re trying to ensure that they have actual choice in the matter. Seriously, you write lots of words, but in the end, most of what you express is entirely beside the point.

          • marv

            ‘I’ve had sex workers challenge me by pointing to my choice to get married and, as they’ve said, enter a legal contract to exchange/ share sex and other physical, mental, emotional, and social resources with one man. Luckily for me, I enjoy a mutually respectful partnership with the person I chose to marry…
            This is an argument I have heard made, though it’s not my argument,… I offer it only because I think people calling marriage sex work is similar to people calling sex work slavery. Obviously there is some modicum of accuracy, in some circumstances, to both arguments. Beyond that they both largely miss the mark once you sit down and listen to people about their realities.’

            I agree with those prostituted women’s assessment of marriage. You are unwilling to make the distinction between finding marriage satisfying and the actual function the institution plays in society outside of wishful thinking. Women are privatized in marriage which obscures their sex class status and systemic violence against them . Relatedly, women’s own lower economic rank status is concealed when they marry men because men generally have more wealth. Women also mediate economic class relations when they marry across (and within) class lines. Women serve to ease class antagonism by allowing men of different classes to bond across women’s bodies providing political stability and legitimacy to the sex/economic class system.

            In addition, when it comes to alternative relationships, unmarried equality is not feasible without the decline of ritualized heterosexual coupledom. Non sexual associations exist in the shadow of sexual ones reducing them to a lower status.

            Loving and unloving marriages both fortify patriarchy in their actual operation despite how we feel about them. Reality is what is really there not what we imagine it to be. I am not provoking people to divorce their partners, just to be honest about how institutions functions on the ground not in the air – prostitution included.

          • “It is highly problematic to implement only one fraction of the Nordic model out of the larger social service context that’s provided in Nordic countries.”

            Yes, that’s true. The survey-based study of DTES 2013 indicates that. However it does not support your claim of increased fear of police as the people interviewed reported improved relations with police officers. The problem was with john violence. When transactions occurred further away from police presence in order to protect johns from arrest/fines, the johns have a greater license to inflict violence. What is absent (besides any sort of focus on john violence: the ubiquitous elephant in the room in most of these conversations about “sex-work”) is available alternatives for survival.

            However, decriminalization and legalization do not address john violence either when they normalize the purchase of blowjobs by a teen addict for the husband and father on his way to work or the married man who pays to watch a young woman hit herself via a webcam. Criminalizing these behaviours is an imperfect but essential start to a deeply rooted social problem.

            The argument that making money off of male sexual entitlement is an acceptable remedy to the problem of extreme poverty, sexual trauma and addiction is like saying we must maintain toxic landfills because in some countries child labourers support their families by picking through the garbage to find re-sellable metal fragments and computer parts and imagining that doing so “is a job like any other” that these people “choose”.

  • ArgleBargle

    Marion, I am also confused by your second point. Why would an officer who assaults people have greater motivation to intimidate and prevent reporting now that the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (Bill C 36) is law ?

    Second, and in any case, why should we consider scrapping good laws specifically designed to protect vulnerable people because the laws may make criminals who assault people mad?

    • Marion

      Because it creates a situation where the assailant is also the enforcer of law and the access point to justice. How can people access justice when the behaviour of a few abusive officers makes them genuinely afraid of entire police forces that are supposed to protect them?

      If the abusive officer is at risk of facing criminal charges as a purchaser of sex, they can now use sections of the new law to intimidate the more vulnerable person by imposing false or trumped up charges if the sex worker doesn’t do whatever the officer wants.

      I don’t care if a law makes violent offenders mad.

      I care whether or not a law is actually practical for, and accessible to, and informed by, the complex needs of the people the law is intended to protect. The more vulnerable the population, the more important it is that they be fully consulted – and they were not even marginally consulted, and significant, systemic and structural concerns have been completely missed as a result.

      Whether or not this is a good law is still up for debate. If it is inaccessible or increases alienation of the people most often targeted by violence, or is being implemented by people who are themselves perpetrators of violence, then there’s still some work to do before it becomes a good law (ie. accessible, practical, and effective).

      Tell me. If a friend told you she had been assaulted by an officer on your city’s police force (but didn’t know which one), would you trust that police force to receive a report and actually help her? What if the officer who assaulted your friend had already drawn up false charges against her regarding “communicating for the purposes” near her child’s school or a park, and had said they won’t file it as long as she keeps quiet? Since lots of sex work in Canada is done to supplement other work, and most of it is hidden or unknown to family and friends, it wouldn’t matter how she actually earned a living once the charge was drawn up. Now imagine that she’s a single parent, struggling with unstable housing, poverty, and racism – with each factor, she’s less likely to trust the police in the first place, do you think she’ll take the risk to try and challenge a respected officer?

      With C-36, we’ve just given abusive officers a very big stick to use against sex workers and sexually exploited people (youth and adults). It’s already ugly and peer-to-peer agencies are going to see it get lots uglier, the rest of the community will hear very little about it and will likely care even less.

      And, it’s certainly not law that will intimidate or deter violent offenders who have an easier time finding victims when their victim’s fear and confusion about the law and the police is heightened. Tragically, emerging research in Sweden and the UK is showing exactly that impact of similar laws there – violence against sex workers has not declined and, in some cases, has increased.

      That’s not what I’d call good law.

      • This still does not make sense. How can the potential of being charged encourage an abusive officer to be more abusive?

        If a cop is going to manipulate a citizen through “false or trumped up charges”, there are plenty of false charges for him to choose from. There’s no rationale to say that c-36 is going to enable that behaviour in a way that it is not enabled now and it certainly will not be curtailed under general decrim.

        I am a bit befuddled as to how you could lobby for decriminalization when the evidence of increased trafficking, worsened working conditions and a carte blanche for abusive men in countries like Germany and the Netherlands is irrefutable.

        • Marion

          Hi Lizor & Argle-Bargle

          There are genuine experience-based concerns held by the 500 people PEERS serves (and that’s only representative of 1 medium-sized Canadian city), which were completely ignored in the drafting of this bill.

          The whole point is that folks without the lived experience don’t seem to understand the full scope of the challenges and dangers posed by this new law to folks still engaged in the sex trade. Those with experience who are in favour of the law have had their needs heard and addressed by it. AND there are many, many missing voices.

          As a feminist, I’m seriously concerned when the voices of vulnerable women are silenced or excluded from law that affects their lives specifically, especially if they are expressing serious concerns and offering evidence that it makes life more dangerous for them (not to mention the apparent violations of their constitutional rights).

          How is it not a concern for Canadian feminists that some of the most distressed people with current and past experience in the sex trade continue to go unheard? Or that the constitutional rights of this group might be threatened?

          They have been telling the staff at PEERS that they are more afraid and that their lives are more at risk now than before, based on their own experiences (the concerns related to policing being only one of their many un-heard concerns).

          For clarification, I’m not promoting legalization (which is the model in Germany, Netherlands, and Nevada). I’m promoting decriminalization (which is the model in New Zealand – the only place on the planet to see NO increase in the sex trade since passing their collaboratively drafted laws 10 years ago). As far as I know, all the peer-to-peer agencies in Canada are promoting a made-in-Canada New Zealand type model, not legalization.

          The research papers I’ve read (and the vast majority of academic researchers on this topic in Canada) agree that legalization, as per Netherlands/Germany/Nevada, increases both trafficking and violence, as Lizor has said. They also agree that both the Nordic model of partial criminalization and the US model of full criminalization actually have a similar effect. I find these very disturbing findings, especially since they aren’t outliers, but they’re coming up again and again in the research, and this is what forms the foundation of cautions from the Canadian academic community towards C-36. Those cautions have also been unaddressed – why is no-one worried about that?

          Good law intended to protect folks in the sex trade would be based on a comprehensive survey of the experiences and needs of the whole group, not just select groups within that population. It would also be based on the full body of research available. We must account for the large amount of data that confirms what we’re hearing from the streets about increased risk of violence under full or partial criminalization.

          The focus must be on protection of those in the sex trade as well as punishment of those who commit assault. If we focus only on punishment, and only from one perspective, we risk missing crucial points, from those in the streets and from a huge body of research, that will increase protection.

          Lizor, whatever prostitution law we have, police re-training must take place, immediate trauma supports and longer term PTSD supports must be made available when assaults happen. Also, ongoing, unconditional supports (not restricted to exiting) must be available to anyone who identifies as being in or having been in the sex trade, though that becomes harder and harder as agencies like PEERS close due to lack of funding.

          Argle-Bargle, very few of PEERS clients are willing to access the exceptional services of the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre, often because when sexual assault occurs it is not always recognized that way (sometimes for years) &/or because they simply do not trust other agencies regardless of their excellence. This means other approaches are necessary to ensure needs are met as they are articulated by the person experiencing something, not according to someone else’s definition.

          I really respect your advocacy for safety and for trying to develop consequences for people who commit violent crime. I stand for those things too.

          I think I’ve said everything I can in an effort to represent the perspective of the people I’ve served at PEERS. I know you don’t agree with me and understand that the points I’ve made don’t make sense to you. I appreciate the opportunity to be in dialogue about it for a while.

          I’m so deeply sad and exhausted about the whole thing. I can’t keep going back and forth on this so I’ll just end by saying that the folks who feel satisfied with C-36 would be horrified to hear the stories in the street and the voices that have been left out who are most in need of protection. There are huge holes in the new law and portions of it the new law will, tragically, increase violence. It makes me sick to think that more women will pay with their lives because lawmakers (and sadly other women) refused to listen to many of those who are most affected.

          I just want the folks at PEERS, and their counterparts in cities across the country, to be heard and included so any law related to them will actually protect them and address their concerns about safety and experiences of violence.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “I can’t keep going back and forth on this so I’ll just end by saying that the folks who feel satisfied with C-36 would be horrified to hear the stories in the street and the voices that have been left out who are most in need of protection. There are huge holes in the new law and portions of it the new law will, tragically, increase violence. It makes me sick to think that more women will pay with their lives because lawmakers (and sadly other women) refused to listen to many of those who are most affected.”

            I think we would be and are horrified by the stories in the street. Many abolitionists do work on the front lines or once worked ‘on the street’… I don’t expect this law to suddenly have stopped the horrific violence that happens to women in prostitution but, again, I’m still not understanding how the new law has or would increase violence…?

          • Why do you assume that no one who comments here and disagrees with you has not had the lived experience? That is not the case.

          • Laur

            “The whole point is that folks without the lived experience don’t seem to understand the full scope of the challenges and dangers posed by this new law to folks still engaged in the sex trade. Those with experience who are in favour of the law have had their needs heard and addressed by it.”

            The thing is, these are quite often the same people, at two points in time.

            You’ve written quite a bit here, and it helps to know more about where PEERS (though I realize you no longer work there) is coming from. I haven’t heard you address the one thing women on this site have brought up over and over: why the pimps and johns should not be criminalized.

            I’m not sure what constitutional rights are being trampled over. I would say it’s a human right, if not a constitutional right, NOT to be paid to be raped.

            Whether or not the groups and people that say they are concerned about people’s constitutional rights realize this or not, what they are doing is fighting for men’s “right” to purchase women for sexual use.

            I have not heard of specific cases of violence that resulted from C36. Have you? If so, I’d be interested to hear more.

            I don’t know any feminists who are totally happy with C36; again, it has some major holes, as it still criminalizes women and doesn’t provide adequate service funding. And we don’t know all of the unique problems the bill will encounter in a Canadian context. But–I can’t say this enough–we still need to criminalize the sexual exploiters.

            “We have a national housing crisis, a food security crisis, and one of the highest child & youth poverty rates in the industrialized world. It is highly problematic to implement only one fraction of the Nordic model out of the larger social service context that’s provided in Nordic countries.”

            I agree that the social service context is worrying. This is actually something that feminist abolitionists have discussed quite a bit among ourselves. They’re something that we’re all actively fighting for. But because there are less social services doesn’t mean men should be allowed to sexually abuse people and throw money at them. There are plenty of very poor men all over the world, but by and large, men are not taking advantage of these men the way they do women in prostitution.

            I will look over the links to the research you posted as soon as I get the chance.

          • Marion

            Just a quick note to say I’m incredibly grateful for this discussion and the opportunity to hear each of you. I also really appreciate the civil tone everyone has maintained.

            I’ve recently moved to a small town in Ontario from BC. I’m far from familiar colleagues and have yet to connect with folks in my area (as many of you know, this isn’t a popular topic in the first place). It means a lot to be able to engage so passionately with others who care so deeply about the same issues (despite the different approaches we’ve taken to strategic response).

            I want to continue but wanted to let you know I won’t be able to reply further until later next week because I’m marking mid-term papers for an on-line class in nonprofit management that I teach at UVic.

            I see in some of the more recent posts that there is far more common ground than I had previously thought and look forward to sharing my reflections on that. I’ll also work at distilling my posts more before posting them (this is my first time engaging in a blog discussion forum – sorry for being so wordy).

            Warmly,
            Marion

        • stephen m

          Elegant and succinctly put Lizor. Marion’s pro-sex argument doesn’t cut it under clear examination. Thanks for clearing away the emotional smoke.

      • Laur

        Hi Marion,

        I am curious what research it is you are referring to that has shown violence against women in prostitution in Sweden has increased since the implementation of the Nordic Model?

        Police can and are abusive whether prostitution is legal or not. If I may remind you, the criminalization against some women in prostitution is something feminists have been campaigning *against*, and against the criminalization of prostituted persons specifically as it appears in this bill. Wouldn’t it make more sense to remove the penalty on women for trying to survive than to give free reign to all men to access women’s bodies if they have the right amount of $$$?

        The women I know who are most in favor of the Nordic Model–which would be a bit different than the law currently in place in Canada–are survivors of the sex trade. Women with years in the sex trade were in court testifying in favor of a bill similar to this one. So, yes, I think these women know the way police and all “johns” use and abuse women.

        • Marion

          Hi Laur,

          I realize police can be abusive either way. And, under C-36 those who are abusive have new and more effective ways to intimidate those involved in the sex trade because sections of C-36 allow sex workers to be criminalized (due to communication under certain circumstances etc).

          I also recognize that many of the testimonies were from women who have survived sexual exploitation. No person should have to live through such a trauma and there should be resources available to support recovery. No question. There are also other voices and experiences of women (and men and trans folk) in the sex trade that must be taken into account, people who have just as much a right to safety and supportive resources.

          Unfortunately, peer-to-peer agencies across Canada like PEERS Victoria, were not included in the consultation and the voices of their clients were not represented so those concerns have not been addressed. Some of those concerns have to do with ways the new law increases vulnerability to violence. Other concerns have to do with constitutional rights violations (in fact, 220 legal experts sent a letter to the standing committee outlining specific legal concerns regarding constitutional violations, and this was also ignored).

          I can’t imagine any of us think it’s a good idea to ignore evidence and concerns related to risks of increased violence? Or the apparent violation of constitutional rights? Surely we can craft law that doesn’t strip marginalized women of their rights?

          I’m no longer Executive Director at PEERS and so don’t have my old work computer with its catalogue of research reports. However, here’s one link that will give you an idea of some of the newer research that’s coming out (which will very likely cost lives if we ignore it). This is from 2 women who have been tracking and researching Nordic prostitution laws since the 1990’s
          http://crj.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/02/13/1748895814523024

          Here’s a study from Vancouver (published in the British Medical Journal) which assessed the impacts of the Vancouver Police Department’s policy (similar to C36) through 2013, and flagged issues for concern in Canada.
          http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/4/6/e005191.full

          Just in case you’re interested, towards the end of 2014 a paper came out reviewing the last 10 years in New Zealand – also important new information to take into account if our goal is increased safety (and, actually, for those whose goal is restricting growth in the sex trade or reducing it)
          http://crj.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/02/13/1748895814523024

          If we want to increase safety for everyone in the sex trade, we must listen to everyone in the sex trade (including those currently working) as well as the emerging research.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “I realize police can be abusive either way. And, under C-36 those who are abusive have new and more effective ways to intimidate those involved in the sex trade because sections of C-36 allow sex workers to be criminalized (due to communication under certain circumstances etc).”

            I’m not really sure that makes sense… Under what circumstances do cops now have new and more effective ways to intimidate people in prostitution? Prostitutes were decriminalized under this new legislation for a reason, and that reason is because the underlying ideology behind the laws is that prostitutes are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and that those who are perpetrating the abuse/exploitation are the ones who should be criminalized. I’m not going to pretend that some cops don’t abuse their power — they clearly do. But these laws don’t make prostitutes more vulnerable to that kind of abuse than before, when they used to be criminalized under the communication provision. Also, in places that have legalized, for example, women actually DO remain criminalized in certain circumstances — when they are selling sex illegally, in areas that aren’t designated for the sale of sex, etc.

            Part of the aim of the Nordic model is to retrain the police to see prostituted women as victims, not criminals, and to offer them help if they need it, and I fail to see how that’s a bad thing…

  • ArgleBargle

    Marion, in your comment of March 9th at 1:22 AM you say “It makes me sick to think that more women will pay with their lives because lawmakers (and sadly other women) refused to listen to many of those who are most affected.”

    Are you for real? Are you seriously blaming the murders of prostituted women by rapist male johns, on lawmakers and OTHER WOMEN?

    Answer me this: Why are you not in favor of criminalizing johns?

  • It boggles me, as in I keep finding myself going Whuuuuuut?, that it’s still necessary to gently and seriously tell people that women should not be bought. Or sold. Gently, because it’s important not to offend anyone planning to buy a woman.

    Really? Are you people serious? You don’t feel at all odd defending slavery?

    Or is your feeling that it’s only slavery when human beings are traded?

  • SecretMounty

    I’ve been silent about this, because as a cop I have to tow the party line. But under cover of anonymity I’ll share the dirty secret we don’t talk about (though it was mentioned in a wink wink nudge nudge way during this whole ordeal).

    Prostitution laws are not there because we can’t separate prostitution from trafficking. Its real easy to do, its why we rarely arrest “happy hookers” who choose the life. Prostitution laws exist so when we bust a pimp we threaten him with human trafficking and he pleas down to prostitution because its a lesser offense. Then we don’t have to prosecute a long drawn out expensive case. He gets out much quicker with a comparative slap on the wrist and our stats go up.

    I don’t doubt they are passed with other goals in mind. I don’t know, I am not a politician. That is how they are enforced and why police favour it being a crime. Its easier than prosecuting human trafficking. full stop.

    • froimovi .

      stay silent cop guy, you suck at explaining whatever you’re trying to say.